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High school girls basketball: No. 1 Judge wins at Wasatch

Judge coach Jeremy Chatterton, far right, and bench react as the Lady Bulldogs hit a buzzer-beater.
Judge coach Jeremy Chatterton, far right, and bench react as the Lady Bulldogs hit a buzzer-beater.
Tom Smart, Deseret News

HEBER CITY — With a tie game against their toughest region rival, the Judge Bulldogs worked the clock until there was only enough time for a single, and hopefully game-winning, play.

"It was not the play we drew up, but it worked out the way we wanted it to," said Judge coach Jeremy Chatterton after top-ranked Judge defeated No. 3 Wasatch 46-43. "Coaching is easier when you have playmakers. Ali (Brann) did a great job of getting open, and then she made the most of the opportunity."

The Bulldogs ran the clock down until there were just 15 seconds left with the game tied 43-43. Mikelle Mancini called a timeout, and then Chatterton drew up a play that would allow her to take the final shot of the game.

Instead, Mancini was covered, so Brann got the ball in the corner and hit a breathtaking 3-point shot to give Judge the first win in the Wasps' gym in five years.

"It didn't feel very good," Brann said of the shot. "It felt pretty good when it dropped."

Brann said the win felt even better because last year not only did Judge lose to Wasatch in the state title game, but it lost in both region meetings.

"We couldn't beat them at all last year," she said. "So to beat them here, it feels really good."

The first quarter belonged to the home team with Wasatch senior Kim Parker hitting three 3-point shots and giving the Wasps a 17-11 lead and the momentum. But Judge's Tina Fakahafua hit a 3-point shot at the end of the first quarter to keep the Bulldogs close.

Judge was working its way back into the game when Brann drew a charge, which gave Parker her second foul. Then Brann hit her first 3-point shot of the game to put the Bulldogs within two points of the Wasps. The score at half-time was 25-24 in favor of Wasatch after Natalie Pennington made a layup off a pass from Parker.

The rest of the game was back-and-forth with Parker and Fakafahua both leading their teams on offense and defense. Then with 3:15 left in the game, Fakafahua fouled out. Chatterton yelled out "No" as the officials indicated which player was being called for the offense.

"Tina creates so much for everyone else," said Chatterton. "It makes it so easier with her in the game."

With his best rebounder on the bench, Chatterton encouraged his players to rely on each other.

"I just told them to trust each other," he said. "Obviously it's great for us to see that we can win with (Fakafahua) out of the game, but it's a lot more fun to play with her on the floor."

And Chatterton was impressed with Wasatch as he was his own team.

"How phenomenal is Parker?" he said with a smile. The BYU-bound senior finished with 26 points, while Fakahafua led Judge with 17 points and Mancini added 11 points.

Wasatch coach Roger Pyper was disappointed his team didn't capitalize on its foul shots down the stretch.

"We had our chances," he said. "If you'd have told me before the game it would come down to foul shots, I'd have told you we would win. We've been shooting so well in the fourth quarter."

Another aspect of the game that hurt Wasatch was that the team failed to make a single field goal in the final quarter. In the end, Pyper said experience hurt his team as much as anything.

"Judge is an excellent team, and it was a great game," he said. "Their experience really helped them there at the end. I think that was the difference in the game."

"You can't buy this kind of experience," Pyper said. "This is the kind of game you have to be able to play in the state tournament."

Both coaches enjoy the rivalry between the two programs, which are always contenders in the state tournament.

"These games are so much fun," Chatterton said. "The rivalry is so great, but there is great respect, too."