Fieldhouse Classic: Cardinals hold off Zebras before capacity crowd


For a rivalry that finally moved to Dollarway Fieldhouse for the first time in more than two decades, the latest edition of Pine Bluff vs. Dollarway ended up a classic.

Davonne Chapman scored Dollarway’s last nine points, and Rickey Clements missed a potential game-winning three-ball to give the Cardinals a 53-51 victory Friday night. The outcome ended Pine Bluff’s four-game winning streak in the series and extended Dollarway’s overall string to eight wins.

“We needed an atmosphere like this, we needed this game right here,” Cardinals coach Ellis Berry said. “And the thing about it, the kids didn’t get rattled. They kept their composure.”

This was the first time in Berry’s 22 seasons as Dollarway head coach that the Cardinals hosted the Zebras in their own gym. In the past, the rivalry shifted to UAPB’s H.O. Clemmons Arena or Altheimer’s Asive Thomas Gymnasium when Dollarway had hosting rights to accommodate a larger crowd.

But the capacity crowd inside the Dollarway Fieldhouse on Friday got its money’s worth.

Pine Bluff (4-4), which trailed by as much as 42-34 with 5:32 remaining, clawed back to within 52-51 after a Tyrone Payne putback with 41 seconds left and forced a turnover near midcourt in transition. But Dollarway’s Kabion Ento picked off a cross-court pass and was intentionally fouled on his way to the basket with 7.4 seconds left. After a discussion of about 2 minutes, officials ruled Ento was fouled before he made his layup and gave Dollarway (8-1) two free throws and the ball.

Both of Ento’s free throws, however, rimmed out.

Chapman was sent to the line with 5.6 ticks remaining and made his first foul shot — his ninth in nine attempts at that point — but missed the second. Tyrone Payne rebounded the miss and, with no timeouts remaining for Pine Bluff, Clements pushed the ball to the top of the key for a high-arching three-point attempt that drew iron just before the final buzzer.

Zebras interim coach Carl Smith had called his last two timeouts back-to-back around the time officials sorted out the intentional foul situation. He did not regret saving a timeout for after Dollarway’s last free throw to set up a play.

“We didn’t need to set that up, we needed that man (Ento) to miss, and he did,” Smith said. “I burned those two (timeouts) and I got what I needed. I got two misses out of it. And they went back to (Chapman), then we gave ourselves an opportunity to win the ballgame.

“Anytime you do that, then you’re doing all right.”

The Zebras had just taken a 34-33 lead at the end of the third period on a three-pointer by Marcus Thomas, but the Cardinals came back with their key run of the game to build their largest lead.

“It hurt, but I knew we could fight our way back in there,” Smith said. “The thing was just settling down the young guys. They’re not used to this atmosphere, hostile environment and that kind of stuff. We fought back. We gave ourselves a chance to win. That’s all I ask.”

Darrian Kee completed a three-point play and John Tate made a layup to pull Pine Bluff within 42-39. The game went back and forth from that point, with Chapman taking over down the stretch with two field goals and 5-of-6 free throw shooting. Chapman finished with 23 points and five rebounds.

“They (Zebras) were playing good defense and I was saying in my head, ‘I hope they don’t win,’ Chapman said. “I knew they were going to foul me because I’ve been knocking down free throws, so I knocked them down.”

Pine Bluff raced to an early 5-0 lead, but Dollarway got into the game scoring off turnovers created by its full-court press. The Cardinals led 13-11 after the first quarter and 24-21 at halftime.

Also for the Cards, Liddell had eight points and seven rebounds, Ento collected six points and 10 bards and Lamarcus Hawkins finished with six points.

Clements led Pine Bluff with 17 points, six boards and two steals. Payne followed with 13 points and seven rebounds and Kee scored eight points.

“They were going to come with it, so I was going to have to come with it harder,” Chapman said.