Youth Leads Way: Fillies start 3-0 in conference with strong sophomore class

At the beginning of the season, Pine Bluff head coach Loy Moore might have been worried about the inexperience of his team, as four of his five starters are sophomores.

After a rough start, including a one-point loss to Watson Chapel in December, the Fillies have bounced back in a huge way – starting the conference season 3-0.

“Early it was kind of a bad start,” Moore said. “But now they are seeing the game slow down and they are not having to think as much.”

Not only does Moore start four sophomores, he also has a couple come off the bench.

“There is no drop off,” Moore said. “Our depth is getting better.”

Pine Bluff is currently 14-3 overall and 3-0 in the 7A/6A-South Conference. Benton (12-4, 3-0) and El Dorado (10-7, 3-0) sit right with the Fillies in the conference standings.

“In the early goings, we weren’t able to execute like we needed to, but now I think we are at that point where we can add a couple of things,” Moore said.

Moore said the Fillies are now at the point where they can add a couple of things into their offense and defense sets.

“We need to work in some new sets that we haven’t shown yet, otherwise we will become too predictable,” Moore said.

Last week, Pine Bluff defeated Lake Hamilton 58-28 for their third conference win. Sophomore Kye Richardson led the Fillies with 14 points and sophomore Jasmyn Eckermann contributed with 13 points.

Pine Bluff held Lake Hamilton to single digits in the first, second and fourth quarters. They held Lake Hamilton’s Kori Bullard, who had scored 22 points against Sheridan, to single digits as well.

“We kept the pressure on the guard,” Moore said. “We had them out front a little farther than [Lake Hamilton] may have wanted.”

Moore said he was proud of the defense, especially by his guards, in the win against Lake Hamilton.

According to Moore, one of the reasons Pine Bluff has been successful this season is the balanced attack the Fillies have on offense.

“We hear a lot of different names, so our opponents can’t focus on or two people,” Moore said.

In the last three games, three different players – Richardson, Jalan Williams and Eckermann — have led the Fillies in scoring.

“That is just another step in our development,” Moore said. “We want to go past our first or second option and still be able to put points on the board.”

Moore said his new offensive sets “won’t be anything too complicated.”

“We just want to give them a different look than what they are expecting,” Moore said.

With so many sophomores on the team, it would be easy to throw around the word “dynasty” with this squad as many should return the next two years and will only come back with even more experience.

But Moore is hesitant, saying he is just going to take this ‘one game at a time.’

“You just never know,” Moore said. “Whose to say they are all going to be together next year?

“Right now, we just want to focus on our next opponent.”

Pine Bluff will play at Little Rock Fair (0-10, 0-3) tonight beginning at 6 p.m.

“Honestly, they have been struggling this year,” Moore said. “They are real young, so unless we mess up ourselves, we should be fine.

“We just need to focus on what we do and stick to our game plan.”

The bigger challenge will come Friday when the Fillies host El Dorado.

“It will be a huge game,” Moore said.