Saban Sighting: Alabama coach sees recruit, Z’s prevail

Following Tuesday’s game, Sheridan head coach Joe Scott went over to Pine Bluff head coach Carl Smith to congratulate him on the win, saying, “When you make eight threes in one game, you are tough to beat.”

The words couldn’t ring more true as a hot shooting Zebra squad defeated the Yellowjackets 62-41 inside McFadden Gymnasium.

“When we shoot the ball well like that we will be hard to beat,” Smith said. “… We aren’t going to shoot like that every night, but hey it is sure good to have.”

Alabama head football coach Nick Saban was in the crowd Tuesday night, believed to get a look at Pine Bluff’s Will Gragg, whom the Crimson Tide offered a scholarship in June. Gragg, who also plays football for the Zebras, finished with four points with a pair of rebounds in the contest. Gragg had 29 catches for 312 yards and five touchdowns for Pine Bluff last fall.

Also in the crowd was Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and Auburn running backs coach Tim Horton.

But on the basketball floor, Pine Bluff made eight three-pointers in the game, including two from Roosevelt Murray at the beginning of the second half. It pushed Pine Bluff’s lead to 36-15.

“It felt like every time Pine Bluff took a shot – especially on the perimeter – it was falling,” Scott said. “The difference in the game was their perimeter shooting.

“When they hit eight threes at home, they are going to be a very tough team to beat.”

After Sheridan’s (8-11, 2-4 7A/6A-South) Jessie Feathers hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 12 with about 5 minutes left in the first half, Pine Bluff (8-6, 4-2) went on an 18-3 run to close out the second quarter and take a 15-point lead at halftime.

Feathers finished with 11 points.

“They picked up some defensive pressure and we made some turnovers,” Scott said. “They go on an 18-3 run to close the half and it is never a good thing.

“We didn’t rebound and we didn’t shoot it well tonight.”

David Beasley hit a bucket with 3:50 left in the first half and it gave Pine Bluff an 18-12 lead. Murray scored again off a steal and the Zebras had an eight-point lead.

“We went on a run and kind of put them in a hole,” Smith said. “We were comfortable.

“We shot the ball well. We have been waiting for a night like this.”

Sheridan senior Austin Theiss made one of two from the line with 2:32 left before Pine Bluff rattled off 10 straight points, including two three-pointers from Murray, to close out the first half.

“At the beginning of the season, we shot it well,” Smith said. “Then we kind of went on a slump.

“Tonight we shot it well. Hopefully it will carry over.”

Theiss finished with a team-high 12 points.

“I didn’t think he had a very good game at all,” Scott said. “He missed some close range shots and I wish he had rebounded a little better.”

For Pine Bluff, Murray finished with a game-high 23 points and J’marlos Johnson scored 12 points.

Both teams lit up the scoreboard in the third quarter with Pine Bluff outscoring Sheridan 26-20.

“Both teams picked up the pressure defensively and when you do that, you are susceptible to some layups and easy buckets,” Scott said.