Ronald Moragne and his team are excited about the upcoming 6A state tournament and the team's first game against Mountain Home at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in El Dorado.
Ronald Moragne and his team are excited about the upcoming 6A state tournament and the team’s first game against Mountain Home at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in El Dorado.
Pine Bluff has reason to be excited as the Zebras (16-7, 10-4 in the 6A South) earned a No. 2 seed in the state tournament.
“I think we have a chance to do real well,” Moragne said. “They feel good about themselves and feel good going into the state tournament, and that’s half of the battle, believe they can get in and compete.”
Mountain Home is the seventh seed from the 7A/6A-East Conference. Despite the low seed, Moragne’s squad is not taking the Bombers lightly.
“They are a pretty good ball club. They are patient and built kind of like Benton,” he said. “They are real patient on offense and have three or four kids that can really shoot the ball, and a kid inside that is good. We have our work cut out for us.”
Moragne understands what the team has to do to move past the first round, as well.
“We understand what we have to do have to make them play at our tempo and be sound defensively,” he said. “Take good shots, take care of the ball and take care of the glass because they do a good job of rebounding.”
Pine Bluff guard Rickey Clements said the team has been prepping for Mountain Home for the last week.
“We have been practicing all week on their offense, and getting ready for the state tournament,” he said. “We can’t underestimate them. We have the team to do it, just have to work hard and finish.”
If the Zebras beat Mountain Home, they could face defending 6A champion Little Rock Parkview, which faces Little Rock J.A. Fair.
It took a little while for Pine Bluff to come together, but in the last four games, the Fillies have shown they can play with some of the best 6A teams.
Pine Bluff goes into the state tournament at defending champion El Dorado winning three of its last four games. The loss came in the regular season-ender in overtime to Texarkana, the No. 2 seed in the 6A-South.
“I think it took a minute for our chemistry to come intact,” Pine Bluff guard Aija Richardson said. “It was just us finally playing together and putting all of that talent in one.”
The Fillies (15-12, 7-7 in 6A-South) are a No. 5 seed and face Van Buren at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The situation reminds Pine Bluff coach Loy Moore of the Fillies team he coached a couple of years ago.
“Similar situation. We got hot late and beat the No. 1 seed,” he said. “It comes down to putting the ball in the hole, and if we step up and shoot it, we have a good draw.”
Van Buren is a No. 4 seed play a more physical brand of ball.
“They have been in the 7A conference, which is physical,” Moore said. “We have to make it up-tempo and if it’s a game it’s half-court and create sets, we are in trouble.”