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Woodcreek graduate finds college life – and hoops – to her liking

Judge, Cal Poly Pomona to host NCAA Division II Far West Regional this weekend
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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It was only a year ago that J.J. Judge averaged 19 points, nine rebounds and 2.4 steals a game, was named the Most Valuable Player of the Sierra Foothill League and led Woodcreek into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinals and the CIF NorCal Regional quarterfinals.

That’s about as big as the stage gets in high school basketball, but Judge plays college basketball now, and the stage grows significantly this weekend.

The 5-foot-10 Cal Poly Pomona freshman shooting guard and her teammates are hosting the NCAA Division II Far West Regional as the No. 1 seed. The Broncos played Cal State San Bernardino on Friday night in the first round. The tournament champion advances to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in St. Joseph, Mo.

“It’s definitely something I’ve never been through,” she said Wednesday. “It’s a huge step from high school.”

Judge was an All-SFL first-team selection three times. She had four 30-point games last season, including a school-record 38 in a victory over Chico in the first round of the NorCal Regional playoffs.

She hasn’t started a game this season but has played in all 29 games for Cal Poly Pomona, which is 25-4 overall and won the California Collegiate Athletic Association championship with a 19-3 record. Judge is averaging 15.3 minutes and 5.2 points and is shooting 37 percent from three-point range (35 for 94) and 77 percent from the free-throw line (27 for 35).

Woodcreek girls varsity coach Raymond Beck had opportunities to watch his former player in her new uniform when Cal Poly Pomona played at Nevada Reno and Chico State. Beck was excited about Judge’s play.

“She proved that she was athletic enough to play at that level the first game of the year, when she guarded an All-(Western Athletic Conference) performer and completely held her own athletically, including blocking her shot on a drive,” Beck said. “I always knew she can shoot it, and to be honest, they’ll find out she is an even better shooter than they realize, as her range is much farther out than she is being asked to shoot. But they have such a good penetrating point guard (West Region Player of the Year Reyana Colson), the wings like J.J. are able to get shots right at the three-point line.”

Judge graduated as Woodcreek’s all-time leader in scoring and three-point shooting, and she also holds single-game records for three-pointers (seven) and free throws made (14). She looks forward to returning to Roseville this summer and assisting Beck at a kids’ camp.

In between, Judge has adapted to college life in a new town. Her parents, Ted Judge and Joyce Iverson, were able to see her play this season because Cal Poly Pomona plays several games in Northern California. A kinesiology major, Judge described the campus as pretty and relaxing. She said she misses walking around Roseville and seeing friends. However …

“It was time for me to get away from home and venture out,” she said. “Change is good, and I’m meeting new people and new friends.”

All while taking her basketball career to the next level.

Contact Bill Poindexter at billp@goldcountrymedia.com.