High school girls basketball: Zariah Jenkins’ late layup gives Riverton win over Herriman

Throughout Thursday night’s Region 3 showdown between Riverton and Herriman, Silverwolves head coach Jodi Lee could be heard admonishing her players to “just calm down.”

Following two clutch free throws from Herriman’s Lexi Jensen with 25 seconds left, the Silverwolves — who then trailed by one point —knew they just had to follow their coach’s advice.

“We knew we just needed to chill out, get the ball down the court and execute a play,” Riverton senior Zariah Jenkins said.

They did just that.

With 13 seconds left on the clock, the Silverwolves found Jenkins in the low post where she finished the layup despite being fouled. Jenkins then hit her free throw, completing what ended up being a game-winning three-point play.

After successfully defending a buzzer-beating attempt from Jensen, the Silverwolves walked out of Herriman High School with a 37-35 victory over the Mustangs Thursday night, securing what will likely end up being a pivotal victory in the race for the Region 3 championship.

The final scoreline adequately tells the contest’s story on its own. It was a gritty, defensive game between two squads that shared similar playing styles.

“I knew the score was going to be low, but it was lower than I thought it would be,” Lee said. “But hey, as long as we’ve got at least one more point on the scoreboard, that’s all that matters to us.”

Buckets were tough to come by all game, making the execution by the Silverwolves on the game winning and-1 by Jenkins that much more admirable.

Lee said that the play was designed to use the height advantage that her team had — a factor they struggled to exploit for most of the game.

“We did not look to feed inside like we should have,” Lee said. “But (on the last play) we were very intentional that the ball was going to Zariah, our go to post player, and we would let her work. That kid just stepped up big and got the and-1, which was obviously awesome for us.”

Momentum swung like a pendulum all game, with each team leading by no more than four points the entire 32 minutes. But the Silverwolves — who were no strangers to close games — ensured that they were the ones with the momentum as the buzzer sounded.

With no double-digit scorers, Riverton received contributions from a plethora of different players offensively. Abigail McDougal scored a team-high nine points, followed by Anna Ross, who had eight points and nine rebounds, and Jenkins, who finished with seven points and seven boards.

Herriman’s Hallie Burbidge finished with a game-high 10 points, while Jensen — Region 3’s second-leading scorer — was limited to six points on the night.

Lee, who called Jensen the region’s best individual player, said that her team ran a 2-3 zone most of the game — despite traditionally being a man-to-man team — to combat Herriman’s ability to beat defenders off the dribble with players like Jensen.

“Limiting penetration was the key for us defensively,” Lee said. “They thrive when they penetrate and kick to their shooters, and I thought we did a great job keeping them in front of us.”

The contents showed just what it takes to get a win in Region 3, and it’s a safe bet to say that no player left the game without either a new court burn or bruise as a souvenir.

But this particular Region 3 victory means a little bit more for a Riverton side that saw itself separate from the rest of the group with a 4-0 start in the division. Now in pole position, the Silverwolves will face another tough test next week with games against Mountain Ridge and Bingham.

A test that Jenkins said her team is quite excited for.

“We’re just stoked,” Jenkins said. “Winning this game just upped our confidence heading into next week — especially on the road against Bingham because that’s always a tough game for us — but every single game we just keep getting better and we’re so excited.”

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