WEST VALLEY CITY The sports world is littered with cliches, and come playoff time we inevitably hear at least one coach utter: It's tough to beat a team three times in the same season.
Judge helped dispel that silly myth in Thursday's 3A quarterfinals at the E Center.
The top-ranked Bulldogs rolled to a 68-54 victory over Uintah, a team it beat by 14 points two other times during Region 10 play.
According to Judge coach Jim Yerkovich, the most eerie part about the scorelines were their similarities. In the previous two meetings Judge won 66-52 and 67-53. Judging by Thursday's outcome, if the teams decided to play a pick-up game next week, the score would probably be 69-55.
Whether or not it's true that beating a team a third time is tough, the notion no doubt helped heavily favored Judge prepare mentally.
"You (never) want to play a team three times because you know it's going to be a battle," said Judge big man Noel Hollingsworth, who recorded 13 points and nine rebounds in the win. "We knew we couldn't take them lightly."
The Bulldogs backed it up with a wire-to-wire win, advancing to Friday's semifinals where it will face Bear River at 9:10 p.m.
Judge led by 10 after the first quarter and then a dozen at the half. Without the play of Derek Bunderson the Utes might have been run out of the building much sooner. Instead, Bunderson's 25-point effort helped Uintah remain within striking distance all game. In fact, Bunderson scored seven straight points late in the third quarter and early in the fourth to claw to within seven at 48-41 with 7:28.
"I thought Bunderson really showed his competitiveness," said Yerkovich.
Unfortunately for Bunderson and his Utes, the Bulldogs responded with a 9-0 spurt to up a 16-point lead realistically putting the game away for good.
"It's very typical of this group of kids, and Stallon (Saldivar) is usually the guy that leads us with those type of things," said Yerkovich. "He's a real competitor. He's really hard to get down. They rally around him."
Saldivar scored eight his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, in addition to finishing with five rebounds and four assists. Teammates Oliver Hughes chipped in with 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 3-of-5 shooting from the 3-point line.
"He's an excellent 3-pointer shooter. When I first saw his shot I thought we've got to change that shot, then I started watching him shoot and (thought) 'no we won't change that shot'," said Yerkovich. "He really does have a different release."Judge finished the game shooting 49 percent while Uintah finished at 36 percent.
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