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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Judge's #23 Jacob Gondrezick, right, uses the screen from teammate #44 Alex Mancinni, left, to get away from Park City's #4 Jordan Ruda as the two teams play Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012 at Park City. Judge won 57-54.
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.

Along with Cremer's 16 points, Patrick Neville chipped in with 13 while Jacob Gondrezick added 11 and Alex Mancini had 10 more. Gondrezick and Neville each had three 3-pointers.

Park City's Buford led all scorers with 19 points in the loss.

Email: jedward@desnews.com