PEARCY, Ar. — Pine Bluff had an edge in height, strength and quickness Tuesday night at the Wolf Den, and the Zebras claimed undisputed possession of first place in 5A South by beating Lake Hamilton, 75-64.
It was a beating, too. Sophomore standout Ty Robinson suffered a broken nose in the middle of the second quarter with the Wolves leading. Robinson did not return, and the Wolves were dominated inside the paint the remaining 20 minutes.
“They were more physical and tougher than us tonight,” said Lake Hamilton coach Scotty Pennington. “We have to get better in that area before we go over to Pine Bluff (Feb. 21). Ty Robinson is one of our top scorers and leading rebounders. He’ll have to wear a mask if he plays Thursday at Lakeside.”
Zebras dominate play inside the paint
It was obvious Robinson’s absence was a factor on the boards. The Zebras outrebounded Lake Hamilton, 40-15. Pennington was also concerned about the turnovers his club had.
Pine Bluff (14-6, 8-0) shot 60 percent from the floor, making only one 3-pointer. They didn’t need to shoot outside with Courtney Crutchfield and Tray Barnett taking up residence inside. Crutchfield scored 12 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, almost all on layups. Barnett added 17 points, while Austyn Dendy and 6-6 Jordan Harris contributing 10 each.
“Crutchfield and Barnett have carried us all season,” said winning coach Billy Dixon. “Once we get a lead we play better. It was a struggle early with us going back and forth. When we got a little separation we were able to dictate what we were going to do offensively.”
Dixon noted that five of the Zebras’ loses came early when Pine Bluff was still playing football. He admitted Robinson’s presence was a factor, and that he didn’t know the youngster had suffered a broken nose.
“Anytime you lose a part (Robinson) of that machine it’s a game changer,” said Dixon. “I’ve watched that kid all year long. I saw him as a freshman in the state tournament last year. He’s a good kid, and I hate that he got hurt.”
Sharp scores 30 for Lake Hamilton
Despite being destroyed at both ends of the court on the glass, the Wolves kept the score close until the final two minutes. Demetrius Sharp was the Wolves only consistent player on offense. He buried five 3-pointers and tied for high-game honors with 30 points. Easton Hurley was the only other Wolf in double figures with 10 points. Lake Hamilton’s 11 treys were necessary because the Wolves were having trouble getting inside.
“We cut their lead to four points, and then had a layup waved off when they called a foul on us,” said Pennington. “They’re very good, and we knew that going into the game. We’ve got a very good team. Our kids will be excited about getting a chance to get even when we go to Pine Bluff.”
Hayleigh Wyrick poured in 15 of her game-high 28 points in the first quarter to help Lake Hamilton’s girls run away with a 64-39 win over Pine Bluff.
“I saw a lot of good things in the first half,” said Lake Hamilton coach Blake Condley. “We hit a lull in the second half when they did some thing defensively that we haven’t seen. It got a little frustrating at times, but we responded back from it. The girls did a good job of executing.”
Lake Hamilton’s girls improve to 19-2 on the year and 8-0 in 5A South.