A game like this, I think that helps you that you played that tough competition, 'cause we've been through these situations. We've lost a lot of games like this, so to be able to get a close one like this on the road is encouraging. —Coach Dan Del Porto
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PARK CITY — Throughout a difficult preseason schedule in which Judge Memorial's boys basketball team lost six games, including nail-biters to Highland, Bountiful and Davis, coach Dan Del Porto always knew the difficulties would pay off.
Tuesday night was one of those moments.
After squandering a double-digit lead in the third quarter and seeing Park City rally to tie the game with under a minute remaining, Judge made the necessary plays down the stretch to eke out the 57-54 victory.
"It's one of those games I think you need to grow. A game you have to make plays at the end, and we made the plays at the end. It wasn't easy, they're really good," said Del Porto, whose team improved to 5-0 in Region 10 after Britton Buford missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Park City missed out on an opportunity to move into a first-place tie with Judge at the midway point of region play with the loss, and now falls into third place behind Wasatch.
"A game like this, I think that helps you that you played that tough competition, 'cause we've been through these situations. We've lost a lot of games like this, so to be able to get a close one like this on the road is encouraging," said Del Porto.
With the game level at 53-53 with under a minute remaining, Joe Cremer — who led Judge with 16 points — put the Bulldogs in front with a layup. Park City's Buford was fouled at the other end, but he only made 1-of-2 free throws to whittle the lead to 55-54 with less than 20 seconds left.
Judge, which struggled with Park City's full-court press throughout the second half, attacked the ensuing possession with poise, resulting in a contested layup for Elliott McGill. He missed, but Cremer tipped in the offensive rebound, increasing the Bulldogs' lead to 57-54 with seven seconds remaining.
Park City had a decent look at a tying 3-pointer, but it wouldn't drop.
Judge knocked down nine 3-pointers in the victory, including six in the first half, as it took a 29-22 lead. It eventually increased the lead to 12 midway through the third quarter, but that's when Park City's pressure defense started forcing Judge into a bunch of turnovers.
"We did a poor job down the stretch with their press," said Del Porto. "Turnovers got them back in the game."
Trailing 41-34 after the third quarter, Park City chipped away at the lead and eventually tied it at 51-51 with 1:30 remaining.
Park City's Buford led all scorers with 19 points in the loss.