WARDEN — Neither team will use the game’s footage to teach shooting.
But it was a lesson in grit.
Warden hit 5-of-6 late free throws to beat Columbia 42-38 Friday.
Nursing a two-point lead, guard Martin Arriaga deflected a pass into the arms of Zach Richins. Richins was fouled with 12.8 seconds left and buried both free throws to ensure the win. Earlier in the fourth quarter, Arriaga drilled a three-pointer for a two-point lead, 37-35; it was the Cougars’ last made field goal.
“I’m a guy that doesn’t really feel pressure, you know?” Arriaga said. “I wasn’t making any shots before so I just knew I had to make a big play. I saw the ball — I just went for the ball. I was able to get my hand on it so my teammate could grab the ball.”
Both teams sat back in zone defense, daring the other to make jump shots.
And for most of the game, neither team could.
The score was tied 10-10 after one quarter and 19-19 at halftime.
The flow of the game opener up slightly in the third quarter as Columbia used a 7-0 run to take a 26-21 lead.
Richins responded with a lay-up and a three-pointer from the right corner to tie the score again. Richins finished with 10 points in the third and Kaden Skone’s buzzer-beating three gave Warden a four-point lead, 34-30.
Despite the momentum-building shot, Warden was held scoreless for the first three minutes of the fourth quarter.
A post score from Reece Humphreys put the Coyotes back ahead by one point, 35-34.
Both teams traded three-pointers before Warden hit its late free throws to regain the lead for good.
Dreyton Martinez made three out of his four attempts and Richins was perfect in his final trip to the line.
“I think we definitely did some growing up because we’ve had a lot of tough games this season,” Arriaga said. “This was one of them and we were able to pull off the win tonight.”
Zach Richins 15, Dreyton Martinez 8, Martin Arriaga 6, Kaden Skone 5, Jesus Mercado 4, Jack Hardman 4.