Making A Statement: Zebras blow by Jackets with outside shooting, defense

The Pine Bluff Zebras finished their home schedule with authority on Friday night as they trounced the Sheridan Yellowjackets 73-51 inside McFadden Gymnasium.

“We shot the ball well, played defense, picked them up and kept them off the line,” Pine Bluff head coach Carl Smith said. “That’s the way you win ball games.

“If we can do that, we will be all right.”

Pine Bluff led just 31-29 at halftime but in the third quarter, the Zebras outscored the Yellowjackets 21-12.

“They weren’t going by us,” Smith said. “They were trying to run their offense and get in their sets.

“Usually we put folks on the line, so I back off of them. But nobody was in foul trouble, so I told them to extend the defense and it kind of worked out.”

Pine Bluff (13-9, 9-5 in 7A/6A-South) got off to a quick start in the second half with a three-pointer from freshman Ladarius Skelton. Senior Darrian Kee was able to follow that a bit later with a dunk following a Sheridan turnover.

Senior Rickey Clements quickly followed with a slam-dunk that had a bit of authority behind it. With 5:33 left in the third quarter, the Zebras led Sheridan (14-14, 2-11) 38-30.

“They hit some shots,” Sheridan head coach Joe Scott said. “If they hit three-pointers like they did tonight, they are going to be a very difficult team to beat.

“Because they are so aggressive on the rebounds as it is.”

Pine Bluff made six three-pointers in Friday’s win.

“They started to hit some three-pointers and the game got a little faster paced,” Scott said. “We played out of control in that third quarter.

“We turned the ball over and did not get enough shots. Then they would go down and hit all their outside shots I felt like.

“Or they kept getting second and third opportunities off the boards.”

Pine Bluff got off to a rough start to begin the game. The Zebras trailed 9-2 early in the first quarter following a layup by Sheridan junior Chris Whitman.

But a hook shot by Pine Bluff senior Tyrone Payne and a three-pointer cut the deficit to 9-7. By the end of the first quarter, Sheridan led 17-15.

“They were just quicker to the ball,” Scott said. “They were just crashing the boards and we couldn’t keep them off it.”

Payne finished with 19 points and Kee had 14. Clements contributed with eight.

For Sheridan, junior Austen Theiss had 10 points and senior Brady Bowlin had 15.

“It hurt that Theiss got into foul trouble,” Scott said. “When he came out of the game, our rebounding really went down.

“He sat almost the third quarter with four fouls. We put him back in the fourth quarter and he fouls out almost one or two minutes later.”

Pine Bluff honored its seven seniors Friday including Kee, Payne, Jones, Clements, Devantee Jenkins, Cameron Jackson and KaVon Cassidy.

Pine Bluff will face Benton on Tuesday night. Benton was crowned the conference champion following a win earlier this week. As of Friday afternoon, the Panthers are 12-0 in conference.