Pine Bluff junior Ajia Richardson hit a three-pointer with less than 1:45 left in the game for a five-point lead, and the Fillies held on to defeat the Sheridan Lady Yellowjackets 53-49 Friday night inside McFadden Gymnasium.
“It was just a matter of someone making a play,” Pine Bluff head coach Loy Moore said. “It was the same thing at El Dorado the other night.
“I just thought we had a contribution from so many people. That shot was huge but we were making huge shots all night.”
The three-pointer would give Pine Bluff a 51-46 lead and the Fillies would knock down to two more free throws as time wound down to close out the win.
Right before Richardson’s three-pointer, Sheridan had gotten the game within two-points following a basket by junior Hannah Schultz.
“I thought we fought them tooth and nail and gave us a chance to win at the end,” Sheridan head coach Brian Davenport said. “We had that opportunity but she hit a big three.
“(Richardson) had a good game shooting the ball. Credit to them and credit to Coach Moore.”
Pine Bluff (22-4, 11-1 in 7A/6A South) will now face Benton on Tuesday night. The Lady Panthers lost to El Dorado on Friday night, so Tuesday’s game will decide the regular season championship.
“It is going to be a physical game Tuesday. We play for a championship,” Moore said. “It is going to be a rough game.
“We just got to get in the mentality that we can’t let them impose their will on us, because that is what they are going to try to do.
“(Benton) is going to try to physically handle us. We got a chance at a championship and we just got to get it done anyway we can.”
Heading into the fourth quarter, Sheridan (14-8, 7-5) trailed Pine Bluff 39-32. The Lady Yellowjackets got it within three points following a pair of baskets from Schultz.
“Sheridan played very well,” Moore said. “They are a very good basketball team. They have greatly improved from the first time we played them.
“At their place, it was a comfortable win. It wasn’t that we played bad; Sheridan just played really well and shot the ball well.
“Our kids just stepped up late and pulled it out. I’m glad I don’t have to play them again.”
Richardson finished the game with 14 points to lead the Fillies. Senior Marquietta Seargeant contributed with 11 points.
“I thought we played a good game defensively, especially in the second half,” Davenport said. “But it was just too much (Richardson). She hit some big shots down the stretch.”
Schultz finished the game with 16 points for Sheridan. Sophomore Kadesha Cooper came off the bench and chipped in with 10 points.