For three quarters, the Buckaroos and Broncos gave the fans all they could ever expect from a number one versus number two rivalry showdown game Thursday night in Monticello.
With the score knotted at 33-33, anticipation was high entering the fourth quarter. But the Broncos turned six turnovers in a row by the Buckaroos into 11 quick points to start the fourth quarter and the game was over, the Broncos pulling out a pulsating 55-43 win over the Buckaroos.
Cameron Shumway and Logan Meyer led the Broncos with 17 points each, with Tyler Nielson adding 10 points. Devin Wright and Dallin Duncan scored 16 and 15 respectively to pace the Bucks.
From the outset, the contest was a seesaw affair, with neither team building more than a five point lead. San Juan led after the first quarter, 7-6, signaling a tough defensive battle was looming.
Monticello caught fire in the second quarter with Wright scoring six points and Duncan four. And after Terek Esplin nailed a three pointer and Jake Duncan scored at the buzzer, the Bucks led 21-20 at halftime.
The game seemed to be going the Buckaroos way in the low scoring affair when the third quarter ended at 33 all. The Broncos were without the services of big man AJ Slavens, (averaging 10 points, six rebounds per game), who was home sick in bed.
San Juan came into the game averaging 61 points a game in their last four wins and the Bucks were only allowing 34 points per game. But something had to give and it was the Bucks, who handed the Broncos 11 turnovers in the fourth quarter allowing the victorious Broncos to score 22 points in the quarter.
Logan Meyer, who scored the first three points of the game on a trey in the first quarter, started the onslaught in the fourth quarter with another trey after the first Buckaroo turnover. After the second Buckaroo miscue, Meyer scored a three point play the old fashioned way with some “hoop and some harm.” Suddenly, only seconds into the fourth quarter, the Broncos had their biggest lead of the game for either team. They quickly and decisively turned it into an eleven point lead, 44-33.
Even so, the Bucks battled back, though without the services of outside threat Cory Young (who fouled out early in the fourth) and with starter Kendall Maughan on the bench with four fouls.
Whirling dervish Devin Wright poured in four points, Duncan had a beautiful tip-in and Esplin added two free throws and suddenly, with 1:24 left, the Bucks were within four points, 46-42. Another Bronco basket and a Duncan free throw later, the score was 48-43 with 50 seconds left.
That’s when new Bronco coach Wade Mortensen, a 33-year veteran coach, called timeout. With the fans perhaps thinking the Broncos were going to take time off the clock, the Broncos surprised the Buckaroos with an inbounds play that worked to perfection.
The lob pass to Cameron Shumway turned into a layup and foul shot that put the game out of reach. All that was left was a nifty behind-the-back dribble and no-look pass by Shumway to Logan Meyer for another three point play and the game was over.
The loss drops the Buckaroos to 5-2 on the year and raises the Broncos’ record to 9-1. The rematch will be next year in Blanding on Friday, January 7.
The girls teams from Monticello and Blanding completed their annual season series with a 51-44 win in Blanding to give the Lady Broncos a sweep this year.
Earlier in December, the Blanding gals bested the Lady Buckaroos, 42-35.
In the second contest, Kelsi Meyer again led the Broncos with 16 points, six rebounds and an astounding eight steals.
Jolene Kirk and Teal Palmer also scored in double figures with 12 and 10 points. Kirk also pickpocketed the Bucks at will, too, picking up seven steals herself.
The Lady Buckaroos were led by Swayzi Slade, who poured in 16 points and Abby Chadwick, who added 12 points. The win leaves the Lady Broncos at 5-4 on the season while the Buckaroos drop to 3-6.
Next up for the Lady Broncos is the Bicknell Tournament at Wayne High School this weekend. The Lady Bucks resume region play on January 5 at Navajo Mountain.
Each year, Sportshorts highlights the All-State Wrestling Name Team, which was highlighted last year by Brian Adlard, who took the mat at 112 pounds, and take down specialist Skyler Shotwell. San Juan’s rhyming king, Russel Musselman, will make the team this year.
Not to be outdone, however, are some of this year’s basketball Bucks, who sport great basketball names: Dallin Duncan and his little brother, Jake Duncan, Gunnar Hollingsworth, Rylan Goodwine, assistant coach Chris Hoopes, and the Wright brothers, Devin B. Wright and Justin (Case UR) Wright. Let’s not forget Nash Freethrow!
(Freethrow and Wright middle names are little fibs, but one can wish).