WEST VALLEY CITY With his team trailing by six points in the third quarter of a must-win game, Highland forward Jon Henderson made a simple decision: He was taking over.
Henderson made some game-changing plays in the third quarter and finished with 25 points to lead the Rams to a 60-55 upset win over Granger on Friday night. Highland completed a season sweep of the Lancers while staying in playoff contention in Region 6.
Henderson made it happen for the Rams.
With Highland down 34-28, Henderson scored nine consecutive points to put the Rams in command. He mostly broke down the Lancers' defense with dribble penetration but gave his team the lead for good when he knocked down a 3-pointer with 2:05 left in the third quarter. That shot put Highland ahead, 35-34.
"We were struggling for a while there, so I knew I had to pick it up on offense and defense," Henderson said. "I just tried to be a leader on the court."
Henderson struggled defensively in the first half, but picked up his play in the second. He helped seal the Rams' win late in the game. Highland center Latu Heimuli missed the second of two free-throw attempts with Highland leading 54-51 with 31.7 seconds remaining. But Henderson got his hands on the loose ball first, tapping it out to a teammate.
Taylor Brightwell then made two foul shots to make it a two-possession game.
The Rams entered the contest in a three-way tie with Cottonwood and West for fourth place in Region 6. All three teams won on Friday, improving to 6-5 in league play. Granger had a one-game lead in first place when the week started, but is now in a three-way tie for first with Murray and Olympus.
"We had to find a way to win," Henderson said. "This is a tough place to play."
The Lancers were shorthanded in the first meeting between the two teams as guard Ray Tapusoa hardly played because of an ankle injury. This time, Highland was without its starting point guard Nick Orchard, who was nursing an ankle injury. Jordan Crayton filled in for Orchard and played well, helping the Rams to a winning margin that could have been by more if they had been able to shoot better from the free-throw line down the stretch.
"That's the best we've played all year," said Highland coach Keith West. "I feel like we dominated a lot of portions of the second half. We missed some free throws, but finally made a couple when it mattered."
Heimuli sank four consecutive foul shots in the final seconds to ice the game for Highland.Walker Jensen drained four 3-pointers for the Rams and finished with 14 points. Heimuli had 11 points. Tapusoa led Granger with a game-high 28 points.