by Walter & Becky Bird
On February 12, the Lady Buckaroos (7-12, 4-4) honored a great group of seniors and hosted the Pinnacle Lady Panthers (5-15, 0-9) in a Region 19 tilt. A Monticello win would get the ladies above .500 in the region.
Emotions were visible as Monticello honored their three senior girls - Journey Baird, Tymbr Black, Tristen Esplin, and their parents at the team’s final home game. The three girls have given a lot to the program over the years and will be missed.
Setting emotions aside, the ladies jumped out to a commanding 13-1 first quarter lead. Pinnacle attempted to make it a game in the second, battling MHS to trail 23-9 at the half.
The second half was all Monticello. They drilled the Lady Panthers 27-9 in the last two quarters to take the region win 50-18.
Many Lady Bucks got in the game and were able to score. Tymbr Black closed out her final home game with 19 points on nine of 15 shooting. She also had a balanced all-around floor game with six rebounds, two assists, three steals, and a block. Black was followed by Journey Baird, who scored 10 points and added six rebounds, two assists, and a steal.
Megan Black had a great game, scoring eight points to go with five boards and four steals. Brooklyn Holt ended the game with six points, seven rebounds, and a steal. Madison Freestone, Olivia Christensen and Rianna Shumway all scored two points apiece. Freestone added an assist and Shumway three rebounds, an assist, and a steal. Saydee Adams rounded out the scoring with one foul shot.
The ladies shot 33.9 percent from the field and failed to make a three-point basket. They converted 10 of 20 foul shots.
24 of Monticello’s 50 points came in the paint. Monticello scored another 20 off 26 Pinnacle turnovers. Monticello ended the game with 11 assists.
The Lady Bucks held Pinnacle to 21.1 percent shooting and scoreless from beyond the arc. Monticello also had 14 steals and held the Panthers to two assists. Pinnacle only scored 10 points in the paint.
On Valentine’s Day, the Lady Bucks (8-12, 5-4) traveled to Bicknell with the hope of avenging a 51-43 loss to the No. 5-ranked Wayne Lady Badgers in Monticello almost a month earlier. Monticello also hoped that a win would propel them into a third-place tie in Region 19 and derail Wayne’s hope of sharing a piece of the region title.
As expected, the game started out very competitively – Wayne held a slim 9-8 lead after the first period. The teams battled to a second quarter tie, and Wayne held an 18-17 halftime lead.
Monticello finally got the upper hand on the home team in the third quarter, pulling ahead 33-31 going into the final period. The lead was short-lived though. Wayne regained control to win the fourth quarter by five and the game by three, 53-50.
It was one of the best shooting games of the year for the Lady Bucks. They hit 42.2 percent of their shots and went 25 percent from three-point range (two of eight). The ladies scored 30 points in the paint and dished out 10 assists.
Tristen Esplin had a monster game, scoring 25 of Monticello’s 50 points on eight of 13 shooting. She was two of four from beyond the arc. Esplin also added three assists and a steal.
Tymbr Black had a nice game, scoring 11 points on 5 of 10 shooting. Black also had three assists, two steals, and a block.
Megan Black scored six points, hauled down five rebounds to go with three steals, an assist, and a block. Rianna Shumway scored four points and had two steals. Journey Baird scored three points and ended the game with six rebounds and two assists. Brooklyn Holt scored one point, but had an impact with 10 rebounds to compliment two steals and an assist.
The Lady Bucks held Wayne to 43.5 percent shooting and 11.1 percent three-point shooting. Monticello ended the game with 10 steals and 14 deflections, and limited the Badgers to six assists.
Despite the loss, the Lady Bucks are playing their best basketball of the season, and it couldn’t come at a better time. They enter the 1A State Tournament as the fourth place team from Region 19.
Monticello (8-13, 5-5) tips off the tourney on February 27 at 5:30 p.m. in at Richfield HS against Wendover. The Lady Wildcats (15-5, 6-2) are the number two team from Region 21.
The two teams haven’t played this season, but have shared some common opponents with varied results. Wendover beat Wayne 44-32 and Pinnacle 63-15 in November and split games with Tabiona in December. Monticello dropped two games to Wayne, defeated Pinnacle twice and beat Tabiona in Tabiona 35-28 in late January. It should be a great game and Monticello has a great chance to advance.
If you get a chance, come to Richfield to cheer on both the girls and boys. If not, listen live on 103.9 KAAJ-LP.
With the outright Region 19 boys basketball title at stake, the Monticello boys (13-6, 8-0) tipped off against the Pinnacle Panthers (4-17, 1-7) on February 12 in Monticello. The Bucks dominated the Panthers 77-52 when the teams last faced off in late January in Price.
Monticello came out looking like a region champ, jumping ahead of Pinnacle 24-10. The Bucks hit 75 percent of their first-quarter shots. The great start was tempered by a more even second quarter that resulted in a 40-23 Buckaroo halftime lead.
The second half was all Monticello. They outscored Pinnacle 22-6 and 17-1 in the third and fourth quarters to seal a 79-30 win and another region title for Coach Esplin.
The Bucks shot the ball well in the game. They canned 50 percent of all shot attempts and a terrific 47.1 percent from beyond the arc (8 of 17). The boys racked up 19 assists while scoring 36 points in the paint and 13 in transition.
Monticello held Pinnacle to a 23.1 percent field goal percentage and a paltry 11.8 percent from three-point range. Monticello had 16 steals in the game, caused 22 Panther turnovers, and pulled down 34 defensive rebounds.
Senior Taylor Torgerson had one of his best games in a Buckaroo uniform. He scored 20 points on 4 of 5 three-point shooting. He also added 12 rebounds for a double-double on the night. To that line he added three assists and three steals. Spencer Knudsen also had a great night, scoring 18 points on seven of 10 shooting. Knudsen ended the night with five rebounds, four steals and two assists.
Weston Nebeker played solid, scoring 12 points with two assists and two steals. Lucas Hatch also recorded a double-double scoring 11 points on three of seven three-point shooting and pulled down 10 defensive rebounds. He assisted on seven scores and ended up with one steal. Adam Bunker scored eight points and hauled down six rebounds. Parker Walker made all four of his free throws and added four steals. Carson King made his only attempted three-point shot for three points. Hyrum Johnson closed out the scoring with one foul-shot.
Three nights later, on February 15, the Bucks (14-6, 9-0) hosted the second-place Wayne Badgers (11-10, 7-2) with a shot at ending region play undefeated. It was also Senior Night, which can be both a blessing and a curse due to the emotions of all involved. In a pre-game ceremony, Monticello honored seven seniors: Britton Brewer, Adam Bunker, Lucas Hatch, Weston Nebeker, Spencer Knudsen, Taylor Torgerson, and Parker Walker for their dedication to the program over the years.
Things looked great for the Bucks after the tip as they turned a 2-0 Wayne lead into a 20-2 Badger deficit. However, Wayne scored two times before the quarter ended to cut Monticello’s lead to 20-6. The Badgers flipped the script, winning the second quarter 20-18, but still trailed the Bucks 38-26 at the half.
The third quarter was also won by the Badgers 14-11 as they chipped into the Bucks’ lead that stood at 49-40 after three periods.
In a wild fourth quarter punctuated by Monticello turnovers and defensive lapses, the Badgers banked in two three-point shots in the last two minutes of the game – one coming with 3.2 seconds left on the clock – to regain the lead 65-64.
This basket gave Wayne their first lead since going up 2-0 to start the game. A final Buckaroo turnover led to two Wayne free throws and a 67-64 Monticello loss when a last-second Buckaroo three-point attempt went awry.
It was a hard way to end the regular season and certainly not how the Monticello seniors wanted to end their home careers. As of late, Monticello has shot the ball very well. However, on this night, the Bucks were undone by poor shooting and other miscues.
For the night, Monticello only connected on 40.8 percent of their shots. They were just 26.7 percent from three-point range. The Bucks didn’t share the ball as well as they had in prior games, ending with only 12 assists – many of those coming in the first half.
The Bucks struggled to stop Wayne as the Badgers shot 52.1 percent from the field and connected on an impressive 57.9 percent of shots from the three-point line. Monticello did grab 11 steals in the game and caused 19 Wayne turnovers.
Lucas Hatch led the Bucks in scoring with 17 points on three of eight three-point shooting. To that line he added three assists and four steals. Spencer Knudsen and Weston Nebeker both ended the game with 15 points.
Knudsen hauled down seven rebounds and added three assists, three steals and two blocks – one with extreme authority. Nebeker ended the game with three rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block.
Taylor Torgerson and Adam Bunker scored six points each. Torgerson had one three-point basket to go with three rebounds, an assist, and a block. Bunker added three assists and three steals.
Dylan Bird made three foul shots after he was fouled on a three-point shot attempt that almost went in. Those were his only points in the game. Bird also took the only charge of the game.
Britton Brewer scored two points in his final home game as a Buckaroo and added two strong defensive rebounds.
The loss dropped Monticello to 9-1 in region play and 14-7 overall. Hopefully, the Bucks can convert the bitter taste of a final regular season home loss into post-season success.
The 1A State Tournament field is wide open this year and there is no reason why Monticello shouldn’t do well. If this team limits its mistakes and can consistently make some shots and defend, they could earn Monticello’s first state championship since 2014.
That said, Monticello plays their first state game on February 27 at 8:30 p.m. at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield.
They’ll take on the winner of the Intermountain Christian (10-10) and Water Canyon (10-10) play-in game to be held on February 23 in Heber City.
Monticello lost to Intermountain Christian 59-46 at the 1A Preview on December 8, 2018.