by Walter & Becky Bird
On December 12, the Monticello boys basketball team hosted the Grand County Red Devils. The class 3A Red Devils came into the game on a three-game winning streak after dropping their opener to 4A Union.
The Bucks stood at 1-2 after a rough weekend in Richfield against Bryce Valley and Tintic.
The Red Devil’s came out confident and rotating two five-man rotations of players to put pressure on the very thin Buckaroo roster. However, the Bucks weathered the storm fairly well and only trailed 12-8 after the first quarter.
In the second period, Grand started to pull away, using a flurry of unforced Buck turnovers caused by steady pressure to take a commanding 33-23 lead into the halftime.
After that, the Bucks settled down and played the senior heavy and deep Red Devil squad to a scoring stand-still. Grand won the third quarter by one point, 9-8, but it was the Buckaroos taking the fourth quarter by one point, 13-12.
But it wasn’t enough, as the Bucks dropped the contest 54-44.
Senior Ryan Bird continued to shoot well at home, as he connected on four threes for the second home game in a row and now has twelve triples on the season in four games.
Bird ended up high point man in the game with 14 points. He was followed by senior Jake Freestone, who came out with good aggression and ended the game with eleven points and one three.
A pair of juniors, Adam Bunker and Weston Nebeker, chipped in six-points apiece, and fellow classmate Lucas Hatch scored five. Junior Britton Brewer added two points.
On the game, the Buckaroos made 16 field goals on 33 percent overall shooting and 36 percent shooting from three. They also chalked up eight assists and ended up a very good seven for eight at the foul line.
Defensively, the Bucks held what can be an explosive Grand offense to only two players in double figure scoring, but gave up six triples – a stat we’re sure Coach Esplin would like to see go down considerably as the Bucks move towards region play.
The Bucks were also out-rebounded in the game 39-27. Monticello made eight steals and two blocks in the game.
Coach Esplin on the game: “For the most part, I thought we played pretty hard. We were out matched and had to play our best game to stay with Grand, who has twelve to 15 players who are all pretty equal.
“We don’t have any depth, and it showed some, but we did fight hard. We just had too many turnovers, gave up too many rebounds, and allowed too many second-chance opportunities and points.
“We are still working on the team playing together on offense and defense, but we seem to be headed in the right direction.”
On December 20, the Monticello boys made a trip south to take on the San Juan Broncos in Blanding for a pre-Christmas tilt.
On December 16, the Lady Bucks played the Bayfield Wolverines in the comfy confines of their home gym. Coming in, the 2-3 Bucks were riding a pair of consecutive wins over Cortez and Grand.
Bayfield sported a 1-3 record, but had dropped its last three games after winning its opener against Mancos.
As has been the case many times this season, the Lady Bucks came out slow and let Bayfield jump out to a 14-10 lead after a quarter of play.
Obviously, Coach Black made some adjustments and the girls came out in the second quarter fired up to outdistance the lady Wolverines by the score of 16-7 – going into the half up 26-21.
The Bucks hot second quarter was again overshadowed by a third period that saw Monticello tally only six points. Nevertheless, the Bucks led 32-29 going into the final period.
In that period, the Ladies found some consistent offense – scoring eleven in the quarter to Bayfield’s seven – to take the game 43-36.
Senior Ashley Adair had arguably her best game of the season, scoring ten points and making the lone Buck three of the game. Not to be outdone by her teammate, Tymbr Black also stroked in ten points.
Not far behind, senior Alyssa Reeve scored nine points. She is followed by Journey Baird, Megan Black, and Tristen Esplin scoring five, four, and three points, respectively. Closing out the scoring is sophomore Rianna Shumway, who scored two points.
For the game, the Lady Bucks made 16 field goals to Bayfield’s 15. Essentially, the Lady Bucks won the game at the line, as they made ten of 15 foul shots, countering the three for twelve made by the Wolverines.
Coach Black on the game: “In classic fashion we dug a hole again, getting behind 9-1, but after a time out, our girls regrouped and got right back in the game.
“Due to our turnovers, it was a tight game until the last few minutes, as we converted on some of their turnovers and hit some key shots. Ashley hit a big three.
“We rebounded pretty well, forced some turnovers and made 67 percent of our free-throws. That was a big factor in the win.”
It is busy week for the Ladies, as they play the Grand Red Devils in Monticello on December 19 and the San Juan Broncos on the road on December 21.
Last week, several Buckaroo football players garnered post-season honors from the Deseret News.
Senior Thomas Anderson was named Deseret News 1A First-team All-state. The 5-11, 170 lb. RB/ LB contributed 864 yards of total offense and made 70 tackles on defense for the season.
Senior QB/LB Brayson Wilcox, Senior WR/DB Max Hedglin and Senior TE/LB Keaton Young, were named to the 1A Deseret News Second-team.