Zebras stifle Yellowjackets, 69-42 | Pine Bluff Commercial News
When Pine Bluff High School traveled to Sheridan earlier this season, the Zebras had to grind out a win in a tight boys basketball game.
Friday night’s game in Pine Bluff was much different as the Zebras cruised to a 69-42 win against the Yellowjackets, snapping a two-game skid.
Pine Bluff Coach Billy Dixon said the Yellowjackets gave the Zebras a tough game when they met in Sheridan on Dec. 12, a 48-44 Pine Bluff win.
“Tonight, I think the guys were locked and focused, and they played good basketball,” Dixon said. “Played great defense in the first half, and that’s what made the difference. They set the tone.”
Senior Randy Emerson Jr. led the Zebras (13-5, 6-2 in 5A-South) with 15 points. Courtney Crutchfield added 14, and Deriyon Graydon scored 10.
Sheridan (12-8, 2-6) junior Nathan Carter scored a game-high 18 points, while senior Addison Reynolds scored 13.
One of Sheridan’s top scorers, Noah Romine, scored 23 points when the Yellowjackets hosted Pine Bluff in December. The Zebras held him to 5 Friday night.
Dixon said he had planned to rest senior guard Kaden Higgins, but Higgins wanted the challenge of guarding Romine.
“I was going to rotate my guys on him, but once Higgins got in the game, he wanted him, and just stayed with him,” Dixon said. “When he didn’t have him, [Braylen] Hall [was] going to pick him up. We got guys that are defensive guys that do a great job of on-ball defense. Those two guards right there, when they’re on, they’re a problem for a lot of people, and they set the tone defensively in the first half.”
Crutchfield scored the game’s first four points, but Sheridan later took a 5-4 lead. The teams traded the lead for a couple of shots before Pine Bluff pulled away, finishing the first on a 15-4 run to lead 19-9. The Zebras held the Yellowjackets to 5 points in the second quarter and led 36-14 at halftime after finishing on a 12-2 run.
Emerson said the Zebras used defense to pull away.
“Just [getting] stops and closing out on shots, keeping them from shooting the 3-ball,” Emerson said. “They’re a very great 3-ball shooting team, so keeping them from shooting the ball like that, that’s great.”
Sheridan started the second half by chipping away at the Pine Bluff lead. Reynolds scored 3 points in the first half but scored the Yellowjackets’ first 6 of the third quarter. Sheridan could only get it as close as 45-31 before the Zebras padded the lead to 52-33 at the end of the third. Sheridan never threatened Pine Bluff’s lead in the fourth.
The Zebras lost 66-57 to Benton and 74-63 to Lake Hamilton in their past two games. Emerson said Pine Bluff needed this win but must get back to work to turn this into a winning streak.
“Just getting back in the lab, working even harder than what we have been doing,” Emerson said. “Just getting better every day, and just coming out and keep winning.”