Zebras heading back to 5A State Title game after defeating Lake Hamilton in a Double OT thriller


The Pine Bluff Zebras are headed back to Hot Springs to defend their Class 5A state title after defeating Lake Hamilton 85-82 in a double overtime thriller Saturday night at Searcy.

The Z’s took a 36-24 lead into the halftime locker room, but Lake Hamilton outscored the Zebras 23-9 in the third period to lead the Z’s 47-45 at the end of three. The game ended up knotted up at 62-all at the end of regulation, sending the game to overtime.

Both team’s battles in double overtime. With 2.5 seconds remaining Lake Hamilton’s Jerome Johnson was set to go to the free throw line when Pine Bluff head coach Billy Dixon called a timeout.

Knowing that if Johnson hit the two free throws it would put Lake Hamilton up by three, some of the Zebras players began untucking their jerseys, thinking their season may be over, but Dixon had to remind them anything could happen.

Johnson went on to hit the two free throws to give Lake Hamilton the 73-70 lead when Pine Bluff was able to get the ball into the hands of Courtney Crutchfield, who threw up a shot with 0.2 remaining on the clock that banked off of the glass and into to basket to send the game to double overtime.

Crutchfield told Deltaplex News that he wanted the ball in that moment.

Following Crutchfield’s shot the officials hit Pine Bluff with a technical foul for an excessive celebration, leading Lake Hamilton’s leading scorer Ty Robinson to the free throw line, which gave Lake Hamilton the 74-73 lead heading into the second overtime. Robinson scored 49 of Lake Hamilton’s 82 points.

Both teams battled in the second overtime, but foul trouble by Lake Hamilton helped the Z’s pull away at the end with the help of Braylin Hall, who went 4-of-4 from the free throw line late to help Pine Bluff to seal the victory.

Dixon spoke about Hall’s free throws.

Hall, who scored 8 points in the game, spoke about how 4 of those points came from the line with the game on the line.

The Z’s will face another 5A South foe in Benton at 1:45 p.m. on Friday in Hot Springs for the Class 5A State Title.