By BEN WAIT
The West Oktibbeha high school basketball teams are set to host their annual Christmas Shootout today and Saturday.
Both teams will be in action tonight when they play West Lowndes and will conclude action Saturday night playing rival East Oktibbeha.
Danny Crawford’s boys squad sits at 8-2 with their two losses coming to 6A Columbus and 4A Noxubee County. They are coming off a win against Noxubee County and Crawford expects the confidence level of his team to be high.
“Playing bigger schools really helps out our team,” Crawford said. “When you go from playing bigger schools to smaller schools it gives you an advantage. I expect my team to be very aggressive this weekend.”
The Timberwolves have started games strong but have collapsed in their two losses in the second half. That has not happened in their last two games against East Oktibbeha and Noxubee County.
“Last two games against East Oktibbeha and Noxubee County we have finished strong,” Crawford said. “Starting strong and finishing strong is what I am looking for from my team this weekend.”
Kendrin Yates has been the go-to player all year for the Timberwolves. He finished strong Tuesday night scoring eight points in the fourth quarter. Consistency has been the key for Yates all season and Crawford expects nothing less this weekend.
“Yates needs to be consistent,” Crawford said. “He has been giving us 28, 25, 20 points a game this season. He has been consistent and I expect him to carry it over to this tournament.”
Yates worked hard this offseason and improved his game. He hit the weight room and improved his size to make him a dynamic threat.
“He worked hard this offseason,” Crawford said. “He has gotten stronger and has not avoided contact like he did a year ago.”
The girls come in off a tough loss to Noxubee County. Head coach Marcus Johnson thinks this tournament came at the right time for his team.
“This tournament comes at a good time for us,” Johnson said. “We get to play some smaller schools after playing bigger schools. My team has learned a lot from playing bigger schools and it will help us in this tournament.”
Johnson put in a new defense in their last game and change seems to be the only constant for his team.
“I am going to throw out a couple different defenses,” Johnson said. “I am preparing my team for the rest of the season.”
Junior Jaslyne Bedford has been the consistent piece for the Lady Timberwolves this season. She is averaging a double-double this season. She has stepped up and become the leader on her team.
“Jaslyne averages 20 points per game,” Johnson said. “Take that away and we are not the same team. She is very important to this team.”