WEST VALLEY CITY The birth of his daughter on Wednesday seems to have provided Jeremy Chatterton with a little extra motivational know-how, because the Judge girls basketball team has been unbeatable ever since the arrival of Mikelle.
A day after overcoming an 11-point quarterfinal deficit to Emery, the Bulldogs rallied from eight points down in the fourth quarter of Friday's semifinals to knock off the Morgan Trojans 46-38 in overtime at the E Center.
"This team impressed the (heck) out of me, they don't quit," said Chatterton. "Early in the year when we'd get in these situations ... we'd get tight and we'd panic. But they've matured so much over the course of the year."
Down 37-29 with 5:28 remaining in the game and in the midst of a horrendous shooting performance the Bulldogs appeared on the brink of bowing out of the 3A state tournament. Ever so gradually, however, Judge clawed its way back in the game as the Trojans simultaneously coughed it away.
A pair of free throws by Tina Fakahafua cut the lead to 37-31, and following three straight missed shots by Morgan, Judge's Erica Martinez made it 37-34 by burying her second 3-pointer of the game.
Chatterton quickly called a timeout as his players still seemed a bit sluggish, and didn't quite know what to do.
"I just said we've got it to a one-possession game and this comes down to if you want it or not, and from that point on it seemed that every effort play started to go our way," said Chatterton.
An Ali Nakamura floater in the lane made it 37-36, and following a steal on the ensuing inbounds pass, Mikelle Mancini knocked down a pair of free throws to put the Bulldogs ahead 38-37 with 2:30 remaining.
"Once you kind of get some momentum going it's amazing what can happen," said Chatterton.
Morgan, which committed 27 turnovers, finally halted its four-minute scoring drought as Carolyn Johnson made 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game at 38-38 with 48 seconds remaining. Despite missing a game-winning shot attempt at the end of regulation, Judge held Morgan scoreless in overtime to advance to today's 3A championship game despite shooting 28 percent from the field.
Martinez led Judge with 18 points, while Fakahafua had a stellar afternoon with 11 points, nine rebounds and five steals.
When Mancini put Judge ahead 38-37 in the waning minutes, it was the Bulldogs' first lead since Johnson got hot in the second quarter. The Morgan shooting guard knocked down three straight 3s in the quarter, pushing the Trojans' lead to 19-13 before Judge whittled it to 21-19 at the half.Johnson led Morgan, which shot 32 percent, with 16 points on four 3-pointers.