Pine Bluff’s Tyrone Payne goes for a layup contested by Lake Hamilton’s Malik Blevins on Friday. (Special to The Commercial/Mike Adam)
The Pine Bluff Zebras overcame a miserable first half at home and scored 26 points in the third quarter to defeat the Lake Hamilton Wolves 52-33 and remain undefeated in the 7A/6A-South Conference.
Pine Bluff scored just 13 points in the first half, but looked like a completely different squad in the third quarter.
“I knew we could play better than what we were showing,” Pine Bluff coach Carl Smith said. “We had step up in the passing lane, move our feet and keep them off the foul line.”
Smith said in the early goings, fouls were taking the Zebras out of their rhythm.
“We would make a good play and then we would foul and put them at the line,” Smith said. “In the second half, we came out and did a better job of keeping them off the line.”
The Zebras started the third quarter with a 6-0 run, including five points from senior Darrian Kee. With less than 6 minutes left in the quarter, Pine Bluff led 22-16 following a three-pointer from Kee.
Senior Tyrone Payne scored on a fast break and later nailed a three-pointer from the right side to give the Zebras a 27-18 lead.
With about 1:15 left in the third, senior Rickey Clemenets had back-to-back dunks and a steal to give the Zebras a 35-20 lead.
Clements finished the game with 11 points.
Pine Bluff (8-5, 3-0 7A/6A-South) is currently tied with the Benton Panthers for the lead of the conference. Benton beat Sheridan Friday night to improve to 14-2 overall and 3-0 in the conference.
“If (Benton) do their job and we continue to do our job, and we meet undefeated, that will be a pretty big game,” Smith said.
Lake Hamilton drops to 6-9 on the year and 0-3 in the conference.
Kee got off to a rough start on the night as he picked up two fouls in almost the first 2 minutes of the game.
“That hurts, but we got adjust better to that,” Smith said. “We were out of sync and shots just weren’t falling.”
Smith said he hated putting Kee on the bench so early because he is one of their ‘go-to’ guys.. Pine Bluff loses about 20 points and 10 rebounds without him.
“In the second half, I put him in the game and told him to play with your feet and not your hands,” Smith said. “We turn the pressure on them and got the job done.”
Pine Bluff senior Ervin Jones scored all five of the Zebras’ points in the first quarter. By the end of the first, Pine Bluff trailed 10-5. Smith said he wasn’t sure why Pine Bluff got off to a slow start.
“Maybe it is young guys don’t prepare for a game,” Smith said. “Or get themselves to calm down and get in the right mindset.
“That probably had something to do with it.”
Payne led Pine Bluff with 15 points and Kee contributed with 10.
Pine Bluff will travel to Little Rock Fair on Tuesday with the girls game scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.