On Senior night Tuesday, the Pine Bluff Zebras recognized eight seniors and beat the White Hall Bulldogs in a decisive 67-54 win.
With the game well in hand, Zebras Head Coach Billy Dixon was able to work in some of his reserves who don't get a lot of playing time.
In Tuesday's win, Zebra senior guard Kaleb Higgins led Pine Bluff with 15 points, and Berkarian Black chipped in with 12 points.
"I was able to reward some guys who are good to the program and that just don't get a chance to get on the court," Dixon said. "They're good kids, and they do a lot to help the program. Plus we needed to rest legs as well."
With the Little Rock Hall Warriors beating Little Rock Parkview on Tuesday to win the 5A Central regular season title, the Zebras will claim the No. 2 seed out of the Central. The 5A State Tournament is set to get underway on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at Lake Hamilton High School in Pearcy.
"Everything is probably set," Dixon said. "Winning or losing won't change the seeding for us, we're still going to be a two seed. Parkview has four losses, so it's no way that they can catch up. We'll get the 5A Central two spot and probably play someone out of the 5A East."
The Zebras have a chance to end the regular season at home tonight with a sweep of Parkview. Dixon is locked in on the fact that the Patriots are a playoff team, and that's all they'll face going forward. The Zebras will approach this one as if it is a playoff scenario in order to better prepare for postseason play, according to the coach.
"More importantly than the sweep, we're going into the playoffs," Dixon said. "What you want to do is have your team playing at their best. We've been fortunate enough to win, but we haven't played our best basketball. One of the reasons is consistent lineup changes. Tomorrow is just like a playoff game, as we're playing a playoff team. You want to be as competitive as a ball club that you can be heading into that tournament."
Higgins has been the catalyst for the Zebras since the beginning of the season, and that still holds true. However, Dixon has seen others step into their roles as well.
Pine Bluff senior Colby Davis is now a key part of the team, junior big man Xavier Turner provides a post-presence that the Zebras desperately needed, and senior forward Darius Morris is a product of the system.
"We love it when we have four plus guys in double figures," Dixon said. "Higgins weights the shoulder when he has to and takes up the scoring. We've been fortunate that he's been able to handle that and manage that. It's a huge expectation, and he's excepted the role. The other guys on the team have excepted their roles as well. He's a true point guard, and if you're open he's going to differ his self and give the ball up."