Tonight's championship game of the Zebra Invitational Tournament won't be an all-Pine Bluff affair.
Tonight’s championship game of the Zebra Invitational Tournament won’t be an all-Pine Bluff affair.
North Little Rock moved within one game of repeating as the champion with a 67-53 victory over Watson Chapel on Tuesday night at Pine Bluff High School. North Little Rock will play Pine Bluff at 7:30 tonight.
North Little Rock went on a 10-0 run within the first 2 minutes of the fourth quarter for the early knockout punch. That made coach Richard Alexander feel good.
“I wasn’t good after the third quarter because we played like idiots,” Alexander said. “We didn’t play smart. I’m not taking anything away from (Watson Chapel) because they played hard and they played well, but we took ill-advised shots, we let them get in the lane (when we were) on defense, and we just didn’t play well.”
Watson Chapel (6-5), despite getting 17 points and 10 rebounds from center Rodney Ollison, will still get to play another Pine Bluff-area team at 6 tonight when it meets Dollarway for third place.
“Our kids learned a valuable lesson,” Watson Chapel coach Matt Busch said. “We have some good players, but they saw a really good one.”
He was talking about North Little Rock guard DayShawn Watkins, who led all scorers with 22 points. As for the lesson: “I challenged my kids after the game and said, get on his level. You can tell he’s put in the work, and I give him credit. He broke us down and he was basically a one-man unguardable show.”
Busch’s Wildcats trailed 13-10 after one period and went on a 7-0 run to close out the first half with a 27-26 lead. Ollison made a one-handed putback slam to give the Wildcats a 38-34 lead, but Watkins scored six unanswered points to put Alexander’s Charging Wildcats (9-2) back in front. JoviOne Bailey knocked down a pull-up jumper at the buzzer to tie it at 40.
North Little Rock quickly turned it around from there, going on a 10-0 run in the first 2 minutes of the fourth, capped by a Cody Ware-to-Thomas Alexander alley-oop slam. North Little Rock outscored Watson Chapel 27-13 in the period after not scoring more than 14 points in any of the first three quarters.
“They did the same thing defensively, same thing offensively” as earlier in the game, Busch said of North Little Rock’s fourth-quarter play. “(Watkins) got us late.”
So did Cody Ware, who scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter.
Thomas Alexander totaled 20 points and five rebounds, and Tyree’s Hollister had 10 points for the Charging Wildcats. Bailey had 12 points and five rebounds for Watson Chapel.
Dumas 59, Stuttgart 45
Antonio Ford hit three of his five 3-point baskets in the first quarter and finished with 19 points to lead the Bobcats (4-3) into the consolation final of the Zebra Invitational against Robinson.
Charleston Dobbs also scored 19 points and Khendle Joyner 15 for Dumas, which led Stuttgart 31-17 at halftime.
For the Ricebirds (2-8), Glenn Herron had 13 points and Keith Tolliver nine. The Ricebirds are eliminated from the tournament with their second loss.