BY SHAIN GILLET
Clipper Sports Editor
BOUNTIFUL — Zach Seljaas scored 22 points and had two steals with one rebound as the Bountiful Braves won their third straight boys’ basketball game on Tuesday night, beating Judge Memorial 51-37.
“I thought it was a solid overall effort,” said Braves coach Mike Maxwell. “We’ve held the last three teams under 40 (points), and we’ve won all three games. Now we’ve got to get the offense going and see what kind of players we have.”
In a game that featured two top 10-ranked teams in their respective classes, Bountiful (No. 13 overall, No. 7 in 4A) held Judge to single-digit scores in each of the first two quarters while building a 12-point halftime lead.
Seljaas and teammate Sam Merrill combined to score 19 of the team’s 28 points as they held Judge (No. 18 overall, No. 2 in 3A) to fewer than 20 points in the first half.
“We’re long, tall drinks of water out there,” said Maxwell of the team’s first half defensive effort. “And that usually means people are afraid to attack us. And when they do attack us, we have another big guy coming over the top. It’s a pretty exciting defense to watch.”
The Bountiful defense began to lose ground in the second half, however, when the Bulldogs opened the third quarter with an 11-3 run in the first four minutes of play.
Joe Cremer, Kaden Elliss and Thomas Oriente of Judge each had a hand in the run. Oriente scored six of the 11 points during the run in order to close the Bountiful lead to three points.
“They did make a little run at us, but we shut it down, got back defensively, started making shots and picked up a little momentum in the fourth (quarter),” said Maxwell. “For us it was a matter of missed shots offensively. We had open looks at five-footers and seven-footers that weren’t falling, and that helped them get a little run together.”
Bountiful’s defense got back into the game by shutting down the Judge run, holding the team scoreless for the final four minutes of the third quarter and the first two minutes of the fourth. The Braves made a small run offensively to open the fourth, scoring on three straight possessions while switching back to a full-court pressure to close out the game.
Bountiful allowed 10 points in the final frame, but scored 17 and put the game away for good by making 7 of 8 free throws in the closing minutes.
“We didn’t want to go full pressure on them the entire game because that could have gotten them into a rhythm and getting good looks at the basket,” said Maxwell. “We picked it up again in the fourth quarter and got one turnover after another, which helped seal the game for us.”
Along with Seljaas’ 22 point-effort, Merrill scored 15 points, nine rebounds and two steals. Jeff Pollard scored only four points, but had six rebounds for the Braves in the win.
Judge didn’t have a single player score in double figures, but Cremer and Oriente each finished with nine points in the loss.
Bountiful picked up its third straight win following a pair of wins during the Great Western Shootout last weekend. The Judge game was the team’s second straight game in which it held an opponent to fewer than 40 points.
Judge has lost two of its last three games.
“Win or lose, it doesn’t matter. As long as we’re getting better, and we are, we’re going to start picking up those wins,” said Maxwell. “We still need to put some things together before region starts, but we’re starting to put things together as a team.”
Bountiful will host its second straight opponent Friday night when they take on the Viewmont Vikings, who lost to Riverton 64-57 Tuesday night.