The Pine Bluff Zebras defeated the White Hall Bulldogs 68-48 Friday night to remain atop the 5A Central standings.
White Hall began the game at the free throw line after Pine Bluff's Berkarian Black received a technical foul for dunking the ball in pregame. Zavion Jackson hit both shots to give the Bulldogs the 2-0 start before the Zebras answered with a 14-0 run early in the first period that was led by Black, who scored 9-of-14 during the run.
“The last game against Sylvan Hills, we played our worst game of the year, and our guys wanted to redeem themselves from that,” said Pine Bluff head coach Billy Dixon. “They came out ready to play, and our defense was just tenacious, and that was why we had the hard, quick early start.”
The Bulldogs went on a 5-0 beginning at the 4:59 mark of the opening period before the Zebras ended the period on a 10-2 run, leading the Bulldogs 24-9 at the end of one.
White Hall was able to tighten the game up in the second period as Dixon sat his starters for the majority of the period. Koby Drake led the Bulldogs' charge in the second period with 10 points, while the Bulldogs' defense only allowed the Zebras to score 11 points in the period.
Pine Bluff carried a 35-23 lead into the locker room at the half following the Bulldogs' second-period run.
“Tonight, it was on me because I pulled my guys out,” Dixon said. “I didn’t let that energy keep going. Pulled them out because I’ve got other guys I have got to develop up for later on when you have got to have them, so it was the right thing to do to put those guys in and give them a taste of it. I got on them pretty hard at halftime, and they have got to understand that they have to come back and respond.”
The third period saw back and forth action between both squads, with the Zebras going on a 6-0 run midway through before Jackson put a big-time slam dunk in on a putback with 2:48 left in the period, helping the Bulldogs to end the third on an 8-4 to make it 52-39 in advantage of the Zebras at the end of three.
Pine Bluff opened the final period of play on a 4-2 run before White Hall’s Korthorian Thomas was ejected from the game due to a flagrant foul with 6:45 remaining in the contest.
The Zebras then slowed the pace of the game down, running just shy of two minutes off of the clock before Jackson stole the ball away from Kaleb Higgins, then ran down to score 2 on a dunk with 4:24 remaining in the game.
Pine Bluff then picked the pace back up and ended the game on an 11-3 run to seal the victory.
Kaleb Higgins led the Zebras with 24 points, followed by Berkarian Black with 22, while Zavion Jackson led the Bulldogs with 17 points, followed by Kobe Drake with 15.