With the precision and skill that would make any heart surgeon proud, the Judge Memorial Bulldogs traveled 70 miles north into hostile territory and quite literally ripped the hearts out of the Bear River Bears with a 48-41 win in Garland.
The Bulldogs’ win set off a seismic shock felt from Tremonton to Morgan to Salt Lake. With Bear River losing, Morgan claims the Region 11 boys’ basketball title and the home game in the first round. Judge captures the second seed and will also host a game on Friday. The loss drops the Bears all the way down to third place and they must now travel to play Cedar, the no. 2 seed from Region 9.
The win was a huge one for Judge coach Dan Del Porto and the Bulldogs (7-3, 12-9). Thanks to their free throw shooting (7-of-8 in the fourth quarter) and timely baskets.
“We challenged our seniors if they wanted to play another game they had to play well [on the road in a hostile environment]. They responded,” said Del Porto. “I feel a lot better [playing a home game] than driving to Cedar City.”
Daniel Shiramizu came up huge in crunch time for the ‘Dawgs. He accounted for 10 fourth quarter points, two more than the Bears scored in the period as a team. He also was 4 of 4 from the free throw line. His 16 points led all scorers. Colin Lawless added 13 points, on 5 of 12 from the field.
“It was an intense game,” said Lawless, after emerging from the victorious locker room. “We treated it like a playoff game. We had to match their intensity.”
“We responded to the physical play," added Ben Cook, who scored six points and battled Bear River’s Derek White in the paint all night. "Every rebound was a battle. I like those kinds of games.”
White led the Bears (7-3, 9-12) with 13 points and eight rebounds. Jacob Rees added eight points. Brady Jensen had six points.
“It hurts,” said Jensen. “It is a bad loss, our last [game] at home. We have to take [this feeling] and put it towards our game next week.”
The Bears only hit 16 of 44 field goals (36.3 percent) while the Bulldogs made 17 of 35 for 48.6 percent. Bear River won the rebounding war 24 to 19. Judge Memorial hit 10 of 15 free throws while the Bears made 8 of 13.
Bear River coach Kasey Winters praised his team in the loss.
“We have come such a long way, winning seven of our last 10 games and tying for second in the region,” said Winters. “We will need to get the kids excited to play for a state championship [starting Friday]. It’s a win or go home game.”
The win was sweet and Del Porto praised the team’s defense. He also felt the atmosphere and the ‘W’ would help them as they open the state tournament at home Friday against the Region 9 number three seed, most likely Hurricane.
“Nobody was going to blow the other team out. Our defense did a great job holding them to 41,” Del Porto said.
Neither team led by more than four points throughout the contest until the final minute of the game when the Bulldogs put the game away with their free throw shooting.
Del Porto expects the Judge faithful will show up en masse to support their team Friday.
“We will have a packed house,” he predicted.
Greg Madson is a sports nut living in Tremonton. He enjoys covering sports for the Tremonton Leader where you can view his work at www.tremontonleader.com. You can reach him via email at: email@example.com
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company