The opponent or the venue didn’t seem to faze the Herriman Mustangs Tuesday night.
Coach Kent Smith’s group endured a long day before starting their game at 9:15 p.m. at the Jon M. Huntsman Center, and then earned their 20th win the same way it had previously, relying on their 3-point shooting accuracy to upend Region 3 rival Riverton 49-41 in a quarterfinal of the 6A girls state basketball tournament.
Halli Burbidge scored 15 points, Presley Heggie had 11 and Mariah Mons 10 as the Mustangs moved forward to Thursday’s semifinal, where they will face undefeated Lone Peak for an opportunity to earn a trophy they narrowly missed last year, when they fell to Fremont in the title game.
“This is right where we expect to be,” Smith said. “We’re a ‘Final Four’ team now, and Riverton was right there with us.
“If we shoot the ball well, we’re difficult to beat.”
Herriman led for most of the game. It was a defensive battle, and occasionally physical. It became especially heated in the third quarter, when both squads started realizing the game might be their last one. Riverton kept the contest close, taking advantage of its quickness, and eventually forced 20 turnovers. The Silverwolves also grabbed 13 offensive rebounds.
Herriman retaliated with 3-pointers. The Mustangs were 9-of-19 from long range - with Burbidge going 4-8. She was especially accurate in the fourth quarter, when she made two important ones in the final five minutes.
Burbidge said playing in the spacious Huntsman Center was a lot different from a high school gym, and she also had to focus on where to set up her shot.
“There are three lines on the (arena) floor, but coach told us before the game which was for us,” she said. “I didn’t worry about my shooting, and it got easier when they started falling.”
The Mustangs and Silverwolves split their season series, each winning on the opponent’s home floor, so Smith appreciated winning the final one.
“This is the one that counts, and it keeps us moving forward,” he said.
Riverton (18-6) was led by Zariah Jenkins, who had 19 points and nine rebounds. Abigail McDougal had eight points and Anna Ross seven.