If the Judge Memorial boys’ basketball team’s night against East on Wednesday could be encapsulated in one sequence, it would be when the host Leopards were on the verge of sealing a win with less than two minutes to play.
Down by three, the Bulldogs fought hard to keep the margin from going to a two-possession game. East had four shot attempts under its own basket before Judge senior Ryan Pauley, who blocked one of those tries, wrestled away the last rebound from a trio of Leopards.
Just as Pauley won the tussle on that play, Judge Memorial eventually fought through its late struggles for a 56-50 victory.
“We got a road win. That was big,” Judge coach Dan Del Porto said. “If we had lost, we would have been 1-3 in league. Now we’re 2-2 and giving ourselves a chance to be in the thick of things.”
After that battle under the East boards, Judge’s Tanner Riley converted a three-point play with 1:13 remaining to tie the game at 48-48. Following a Leopard turnover, Kaden Elliss scored a bucket and was fouled with 50 seconds left to put the ’Dogs (8-5, 2-2 Region 6) up by two.
When Elliss missed the subsequent free throw, Pauley grabbed an offensive rebound and would ultimately score with 33 seconds on the clock to put Judge up 52-48.
That late bucket by Elliss, the game’s leading scorer with 20, was his only tally in the second half after many forays into the lane in the first two quarters.
In fact, Judge as a whole did not fire up a 3-point attempt before intermission, as the visitors moved out to a lead of as much as nine points. Most of the Bulldogs’ points came through aggressive drives into the teeth of the East defense.
East (7-5, 1-3), which was led by 17 from Mitch Grant and 13 more from Korey Rush, increasingly turned up its man-to-man defensive pressure as the game went on. With 3:08 remaining, Grant scored on a fast-break layup and that was followed a minute later by a Rush score to make the score 48-45.
“We were struggling big-time. They got after us,” Del Porto said. “I’m proud of the way the kids hung in there and we made some plays at the end of the game.”
O Judge goes on an 11-2 run in the last two minutes to pull off a road region win.
• All of Judge’s scoring in the first half came from Kaden Elliss, Tanner Riley and Ryan Pauley.
• Elliss finishes with 20 points, while Riley adds 19 and Pauley contributes 13.