By DANNY P. SMITH
The West Oktibbeha Lady Timberwolves showed they could weather the storm late in a game.
After battling back from a deficit to take a 30-22 lead after the third quarter, the Lady Timberwolves saw the Eupora Lady Eagles rally to tie the game at 38-38.
A putback by Jaslyn Bedford helped West Oktibbeha regain the advantage and it held on for a 40-39 victory against in the first game of the East Webster Invitational.
With the win, the Lady Timberwolves moved closer to the .500 mark at 5-6 which pleased coach Shelia Bailey.
"It felt pretty good and we needed this win," Bailey said. "They play hard and they have heart. We've still got to work on our offense and moving the ball around. They are showing they can step up when our big players are out."
West Oktibbeha is still without Mississippi State signee Shamia Robinson, who is recovering from surgery.
After falling behind 16-9 early in the third quarter, the Lady Timberwolves went on an 11-0 run to take a 20-16 lead.
"Our press defense was working for us at first, coming out of the half, but then they started slacking up," Bailey said. "They hung in there."
West Oktibbeha saw Eupora chip its way back into the game during the fourth quarter and a pair of free throws provided the tie.
Bedford's layup put the Lady Timberwolves back on top and the Lady Eagles got a free throw by Haley Robinson, then Sydney Williams missed a shot underneath the basket at the end of the game that would have given the school in western Webster County the win.
"We're young girls-wise, but I thought they played pretty good, especially in the fourth quarter," Eupora coach Curtis Ford said. "There was another little run there where we did real well. They've showed a lot of improvement, especially on offense. Our little point guard is starting taking the ball to the goal and it looks like she has overcome a little fear. I hope she did anyway."
Ford said the main thing that Eupora (0-3) needs to improve on the most is offensive transition.
"We have a hard time when a team switches from one defense to another," Ford said. "It takes us a while to get organized when they switch on us. I think a lot of that is attributed to youth. I hope that's what it is."
Raishawnda Brantley had 29 points for the Lady Eagles.
Bedford had a double-double for West Oktibbeha with 17 points and 19 rebounds.
Brenesha Brownlee added 13 points for West Oktibbeha and Brittany Jones chipped in 10 points.
West Oktibbeha 67
MABEN - The Timberwolves had a big second quarter and went on to an easy victory.
After taking a 12-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, West Oktibbeha out-scored Eupora 21-11 in the second quarter to stretch the margin to 33-18 by halftime.
The Timberwolves were never challenged in the second half in improving to 9-2.
West Oktibbeha coach Danny Crawford hoped his team could take advantage of Eupora just getting some players back from football.
"I kind of expected it knowing they just came out of football so the majority of their players weren't in shape so I wanted to apply a lot of pressure and run them a little bit," Crawford said.
Even though the Timberwolves dominated on the scoreboard, Crawford didn't feel they played their best basketball.
"We're still not hitting shots. We shot the ball great last year, but we're not doing that this year. We are attacking the rim a lot better. Attacking the rim makes up for missing two-point shots. We're trying to get used to attacking the rim."
Aaron Brownlee led West Oktibbeha with 20 points and Crawford likes his progress.
"I've finally got him in basketball shape and he's playing up to his capabilities," Crawford said. "He's about 80 percent back (in shape after football). Give him another two weeks and he should be back in basketball shape at 100 percent."
The Timberwolves also had Dontaveous Crawford (15 points) and Kendrin Yates (11 points) to score in double figures.
DeShawn Starks was the only Eagle to score in double figures with 11 points. The next closest Eupora player was Jeremy Wright with nine points.
"They think they can play a little bit better than what they can play," Ford said about his boy's team. "The point guard the first time he had the ball shot two three's and he's not the best shooter in the world, but he's a great penetrator. He's got great ability, but he's got to get his head on right."
The Eagles fell to 0-3.