Special to The Commercial/William Harvey
Ervin Jones of Pine Bluff goes up for a layup against Watson Chapel on Tuesday.
Pine Bluff scored 23 points in the third quarter as it defeated Watson Chapel 63-49 at home Tuesday night.
To start the third quarter, Darrian Kee made three free throws after being fouled behind the arch. After Watson Chapel scored twice, Pine Bluff senior Rickey Clements hit a three-pointer to give the Zebras a 28-23 lead with about 6:16 left in the third quarter.
“Rickey and Tyrone [Payne] have been there before,” Pine Bluff coach Carl Smith said. “We wanted to put the ball in their hands and try to make something happen.
“And true enough, they made some good free throws.”
A turnaround jumper by Payne and a bucket by Kee gave Pine Bluff a 32-25 lead in the third. Pine Bluff would then hit back-to-back three-pointers to take a 38-27 lead.
“Their length got to us a little bit,” Watson Chapel head coach Matt Busch said. “They are long. We don’t have great size on the guard front.
“Last year, we were 6-5, 6-3 and 6-foot at our guard position. This year we are short. So their length gave us some fits.”
By the end of the third quarter, Pine Bluff led 49-24 thanks to scores by Clements and Payne.
“Overall, they are a pretty good ball club, and we will bounce back,” Busch said. “It is hard to win here.”
Before Tuesday’s game, Busch said he would like to start a new trend where Chapel beats Pine Bluff every year. So after the loss, Smith jabbed, “He might have to start that trend next year.”
“It is always good when you beat Chapel,” Smith said.
Chapel cut the deficit to just one point late in the second quarter thanks to a pair of baskets and a free throw by Benjamin Marcus. With 3:04 left in the first half, Chapel trailed 19-18.
By the end of the first half, Pine Bluff led 22-18.
“We knew this was going to be a tough game,” Busch said. “They got us here. It is just one of those rivalries where you just kind of flip-flop every time.
“They have a good squad this year and a lot of seniors.”
Clemens led Pine Bluff with 21 points.
“He is a quarterback out there taking some shots,” Smith said. “His back is kind of messing with him, but he was not using any excuses. He played a whole game on a day and a half of practice.”
Also for Pine Bluff, Kee had 17 and Payne had eight.
“Kee, in my opinion, is their guy,” Busch said. “He keeps everything calm and he controlled us a little bit.”
Jalen Cortney led Watson Chapel with 16 points. Marcus scored 14 points, nine of which came in the second quarter.
“We are still building on our inexperience, trying to get it molded by January,” Busch said.
Watson Chapel will play Saturday in a classic in Searcy.