Ogden • It started with Herriman’s big man, Tueni Lupeamanu, driving the lane.
The Mustangs had trailed Highland for four quarters in their Class 4A state tournament contest, but Lupeamanu’s floater evened the score.
Only 4.3 seconds remained, and the Rams’ offense had cooled.
Overtime seemed a certainty to everyone.
Everyone except Z Arima, who led the Mustangs to a 44-42 victory Tuesday.
Arima wasn’t defending the inbound ball — he was trolling for the steal.
The senior constantly was reprimanded throughout the season for not getting back on defense.
Arima knew he had it this time.
How could he not?
So with those 4.3 seconds, Arima threw up his hands to knock down the two-handed inbounds pass. He corralled the loose ball to the right of the basket before trying to throw up a shot while getting fouled with authority. The impossible seizure stunned the packed crowd, which responded with a roar.
“I’ve been doing that all season, usually getting my butt chewed out for it,” Arima said with a laugh. “I guessed it worked out that time.”
An assistant coach to Arima’s left laughed and shook his head that this time Arima would get away with the aggressive play.
Arima coolly drained both free throws to complete again what Herriman has done all season — grind its way through another close victory.
“This is something I’ve been doing in my driveway since I was 4,” Arima said. “It’s cool, living out a dream.”
Herriman trailed Highland for most of the game, and the Rams led by as much as 13 points in the second half. The undersized Rams dismantled the Mustang defense with David Divver’s passing and scoring.
But Herriman cut its deficit to three points entering the fourth quarter.
“Grinding, that’s our game — Herriman tough,” Lupeamanu said. “That’s our kind of ball game. We never blow out a team.”
Herriman faces Mountain Crest on Thursday in the quarterfinals.
“I’m excited,” Lupeamanu said. “I’ll probably just sleep in the locker room until they come get me.”
Storylines Mustangs 44, Rams 42
R Herriman’s Z Arima steals an inbound pass with 4.3 seconds left and makes the winning free throws.