It didn't matter that Wasatch owned a five-game winning streak or sported the second best offense in 3A. Judge Memorial possessed enough speed and athleticism to both hinder the Wasps scoring attack and burn them in the open court.
The Bulldogs left plenty of scorch marks in their wake after obliterating Wasatch 80-52 at home on Tuesday night. Judge extended its own winning streak to nine and now owns a two game lead over the rest of Region 10.
Hot first quarter shooting helped the Bulldogs take the sting out of the Wasps early. Judge sprinted to a 19-2 lead before the game was five minutes old. The Bulldogs extended that advantage to 25-4 in the final minute of the quarter on a pair of layups from Dee Crandall.
"I thought we started as well as we've started all year," said longtime bulldogs coach Jim Yerkovich. Judge nearly lost the lead it worked to build. Beginning with Mike Pelo's buzzer-beating three-pointer at the end of the first quarter, Wasatch used a 13-4 run to trim the Bulldog lead to 29-17. Then, after Judge pushed the lead back to 17, the Wasps answered with a half-ending 10-1 run to make it 38-30.
Taylor Woodruff played a major role in bringing Wastach back from the dead. The senior guard, who finished with 21 points, drained all four of his three point attempts in the second quarter. His shooting exhibition didn't sit well with the Bulldogs.
They thought they lost some poise and allowed the Wasps to rally.
"We got a little complacent," said point guard Stallon Saldivar. "We weren't really playing team defense. And I wasn't really pushing the ball, so it was harder to score." Neither defense or offense were an issue in the second half. Judge finally put the Wasps away for good with a 14-2 run over a three minute stretch late in the third quarter. Oliver Hughes bookended the run with a pair of three-pointers the last one giving the Bulldogs a commanding 60-38 advantage.
Saldivar ended up being a major driving force behind both of Judge's runs. The junior who finished with 19 points, 12 assists, five rebounds and five steals seemed to be everywhere on the court.
But the most impressive performance belonged to Crandall. The junior locked down Mike Pelo, Wastach's leading scorer, and limited him to only three points. When the two teams met the first time around, Pelo finished with 28 points.
Both his coaches and teammates said Crandall had a mental edge in the matchup."Dee came out and just played great defense," Saldivar said. "We got in his head. Once he missed a shot, I think that was in his head and he couldn't make another one."