SALT LAKE CITY — Yep, Region 9 is that good.
The Southern Utah contingent swept all four games in the opening round of the 3A state tournament on Saturday night, and none was more impressive than Dixie's triumph at Region 10 champion Judge.
Down eight with under four minutes remaining, Dixie scored the game's final 13 points to stun the second-ranked Bulldogs 46-41.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy, and we had to play our best to come out with the win," said Dixie coach Ryan Cuff.
Desert Hills, Hurricane and Cedar also beat Region 10 teams Saturday night to advance to next Thursday's quarterfinals, which will be contested at nearby Dixie State College.
Once the brackets were finalized, everyone knew Dixie faced the tallest task facing a team that went undefeated in Region 10. Through three quarters though, the Flyers were more than holding their own.
However, when Jacob Gondrezick nailed a pull-up 3-pointer to put Judge ahead 41-33 with 3:40 remaining, it looked as if Dixie's season was a few minutes from being done.
Cuff called a timeout to settle his players down after Judge's 9-2 run to start the quarter, but he could've never envisioned how those final three minutes would play out.
Over the next minute, Devin Bennett came up huge, draining two 3-pointers and converting a layup to tie game at 41-41 with 2:19 remaining.
"We just came together as a team. We knew we had to pull together cause that was a critical moment for us," said Bennett, who finished with a team-high 16 points.
After Judge came up empty on its third straight possession, Dixie center Walker Swenson made a layup in traffic to put Dixie ahead 43-41, its first lead since an 18-16 advantage late in the second quarter.
Judge was called for an offensive foul on its ensuing possession, but caught a break when Dixie inadvertently threw the ball away with 50 seconds remaining as it tried to milk the clock.
Judge coach Dan Del Porto called two timeouts to set up what it hoped would be a tying bucket, but Swenson came up huge again in the clutch as he blocked Gondrezick's layup attempt with 17 seconds remaining. Bennett corralled the rebound and was quickly fouled. He made both free throws to extend the lead to 45-41 with 16 seconds remaining to ice the game.
"(Devin Bennett's) been mister stability for us this year. So proud of him. He doesn't have a ton of athletic ability, but he's very smart and a great teammate," said Cuff.
The Bulldogs, who only had four turnovers through the first three quarters, committed three critical turnovers in those final decisive minutes.
Gondrezick led Judge in the loss with 16 points, while Alex Mancini added 15 points and 14 rebounds.
Deshon Brown chipped in with 11 for Dixie while Swenson added 10.
Class 3A Boys
At Dixie State College
Carbon (12-8)/Ben Lomond (15-6) vs. Desert Hills (19-3), 9:30 a.m.
Dixie (11-10)/Judge (15-6) vs. Bear River (7-14)/Delta (9-10), 11:10 a.m.
Cedar (16-5)/Wasatch (11-10) vs. Ogden (10-10)/Payson (17-4), 12:50 p.m.
Park City (11-10)/Hurricane (15-5) vs. Morgan (x-x), 2:30 p.m.
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