OREM — Judge Memorial wasn’t content to just be in the playoffs after a four-year hiatus spanning multiple classifications. This time of year it’s all about the wins, and Judge’s terrific execution in the fourth quarter gives it another shot to make up for lost time.

In a game that featured seven ties and 14 lead changes, Judge was in a groove in the fourth quarter trailing just once as it pulled away from Delta for the 64-60 win in the 3A first round.

“Our kids just kept fighting. We knew that we had to defend a really potent offensive player and offensive team, and we got some stops and rebounds down the stretch that allowed us to close it out,” said Judge coach Tim Gardner, whose team won its first playoff game since 2013.

“In the state tournament you’ve got to be able to win some close games, and I think this was a really good test for us.”

With the win Judge advances to next Thursday’s quarterfinals at the Sevier Valley Center where it will face No. 1 Richfield.

Poise down the stretch is why Judge is still playing basketball

Its only deficit in fourth quarter came when Delta went ahead 45-44 just over a minute into the quarter. Judge quickly tied things up at 45-45, and the teams seemed to trade buckets over the next four minutes with ties at 49-49, 51-51 and 53-53.

A 6-0 run over a 75-second stretch helped Judge stretch the lead to 59-53 with 44 seconds left in the game.

Mac Tarver combined with Makhiah Tarver on the biggest clutch play of them all to stretch the lead to six. Mac Tarver was trapped on the baseline and in danger of either a 10-second violation or stepping out of bounds, but he had the presence to look upcourt and spot Makhiah Tarver wide open.

He heaved the ball over every Delta defender like he was throwing in a soccer ball, with Makhiah Tarver catching the ball and streaking in for the uncontested layup.

“Mac is a big guard and he was able to get his eyes up and made a big-time basketball play and that’s what seniors need to do, they need to make big plays and Mac did that for us,” said Gardner.

Mac Tarver finished the game with 26 points while Makhiah Tarver added 19 points.

Delta guard Derek Smith matched Tarver with a game-high 26 points. Early on Judge’s defense really keyed on Smith but other players like Jager Springer and Jaymen Brough capitalized with some key buckets.

Judge opted to play straight-up defense the rest of the way.

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“The last thing you want is them to have multiple weapons out there. So we went back to just our man to man and making sure we were aware of where Smith was at all times. He’s such a talented player left and right, he takes your full attention,” said Gardner. “He’ll be in Division I, I have no doubt about that.”

After falling behind by six, Delta’s Brough cut the lead to 61-58 with a baseline 3-pointer with 28 seconds left, but Judge made its free throws down the stretch to seal the win.