HOT SPRINGS, Ar. — Top-ranked Pine Bluff (25-7) made it look easy Thursday night at the Bank OZK Arena in defeating Lake Hamilton (27-5) for the 5A State Championship, 67-51. The Zebras are simply a bad matchup for Lake Hamilton.
It was the Zebras third win of the season over Lake Hamiton, which was second to Pine Bluff in 5A South. The Wolves only chance was to shoot a high percentage of their shots, particlarly from the 3-point stripe. The handwriting was on the wall after the first half, and most of the 6,500 attending liked the Zebras chances of winning. The Wolves did not make a 3-pointer in the first two quarters this season, finishing the game 4 of 22 (18 percent).
“We never led in the game,” said losing coach Scotty Pennington. “Our effort was tremendous. It was not our night, and it was Pine Bluff’s. I have a lot of respect for Coach Billy Dixon. They’re bigger, stronger and probably faster at every spot in the lineups. Their physicality in the game really hurt us.”
Brutal matchup hard on Wolves
Pennington was speaking truth. “Both of Lake Hamilton’s top scorers, Ty Robinson and Zac Pennington had to leave the game with injuries, but both returned. Pennington missed all four of his long range shots and did not score in the first two quarters.
The Zebras led 26-18 at intermission. That margin changed early in the third period when Pine Bluff scored five unanswered points.
Senior X’Zaevion Barnett led the Zebras domination with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. MVP Courtney Crutchfield scored 16 points, while senior Jordan Harris added 13 points and 9 rebounds.
“They did whatever they had to do,” the frustrated Pennington said. “We lose four seniors, and two (Zac Pennington and Charter Harris) were major contributors. One of the things we talked to the kids about was having the opportunity to be back here next year. I think we’ll be a little bigger, stronger and more athletic overall.”
In other action Farmington wins 4A title
Marin Adams scored 22 points and MVP Reese Shirey added 15 to lead Farmington past defending champion Nashville for the 4A state title, 65-61. Caroline Dean led the Scrapperettes with 15 points.
Anna Trusty poured in 17 points, including three of Greenwood’s 10 3-pointers as the Bulldogs ripped Vilonia for the girls’ 5A crown, 58-35. Kinley Mears led the Eagles with 12 points.
High-flying Landren Blocker tallied 32 points in leading Little Rock Christian past Blytheville for the 4A boys title, 74-54. Rashaud Marshall led the Chicks with 23 points.