With two region victories this past week, the Monticello boys basketball team finds itself atop the Region 19 standings at 4-0, while getting back to winning record at 7-6 and finding themselves back in the 1A boys rankings at number five.
Jake Freestone led the way with 19 points, as the Bucks blasted the Green River Pirates Tuesday night in Monticello, 67-29.
Then Carson Duncan and Lucas Hatch led the Bucks to victory over the energetic Whitehorse Raiders Friday night in Monticello with 18 and 16 points respectively. The Bucks beat the Raiders 70-55.
At 4-0, the Bucks lead Region 19 with Pinnacle, 1-1 in second, and Green River, Whitehorse and Monument Valley yet to win a region game.
Averaging 74 points per game while only allowing 39 in the four wins, the Bucks cruised through the first time meetings with each region team.
Monticello used a spotless third quarter, where they went 12 for 12 from the field, to pull away from a pesky Pirate horde.
Freestone did much of the damage with 10 points in the quarter as the Bucks turned a 30-17 halftime lead into an insurmountable 52-23 blowout after three quarters.
The Bucks started patiently, leading the Pirates 12-9 after one quarter. Pirate sophomore, Trey Vetere, lived up to his name in the first with three three-pointers, to keep the Pirates close. Hatch and Duncan both scored four points each to keep the Bucks ahead.
Putting some defensive pressure on in the second quarter, which led to some easy baskets, the Bucks stretched the slim lead to 30-17 by halftime.
Freestone led the Bucks with nine points at halftime while Duncan had eight.
Then, a whirlwind was unleashed in the third quarter as the Bucks scored inside on all 12 shots. In addition to Freestone’s 10 points, Duncan, Hatch and Talon Black all scored four to give the Bucks some great scoring balance. In fact, four Bucks, Freestone (19), Duncan (15), Black (13) and Hatch (10), finished in double figures.
Freestone was also the top rebounder on the night with five, while Hatch (5), and Spencer Knudson (4), kept taking the ball away from the Pirates on defense. The Bucks had 15 steals on the night with only eight turnovers.
The Bucks shot 70 percent from the free-throw line, making seven of 10, lead by Knudson’s five of six. Aided by that third quarter, the Bucks shot 57 percent from the field on the night, making 28 of 49 shots including 4-11 from beyond the arc.
Vetere’s 11 points led the 2-14 Pirates.
Friday night, the pace quickened considerably with the speedy Raiders in the Buckaroo corral. The Raiders set the tone early on, forcing the Bucks into some early turnovers, taking an early 9-8 lead, 3:30 into the game. But, the Bucks stayed patient and led by Duncan’s eight first quarter points, grabbed a 16-10 lead.
Whitehorse closed to within four points, after two three-pointers with 4:30 left in the quarter, forcing a Buckaroo time-out to talk things over.
Coach Tony Esplin must have said the right things, as Hatch picked up the scoring load and the Bucks scored the last 16 points of the quarter to grab a 20 point lead at halftime, 37-17.
Ryan Bird started the burst with a three-pointer. Hatch scored six points and Duncan, Freestone, Knudson and Black all contributed with buckets in the 16-point run.
In the third quarter, the Buckaroos pushed the lead to 29 points at 51-22. Duncan with six points and Freestone with five helped the Bucks to the big lead, but the Raiders were not finished.
Bombing away from long range, the Raiders made three treys to close the gap. The fourth quarter was bombs away from the Raiders, and they closed the lead to 14 with 2:30 left at 64-50. But Hatch scored the last six points for Monticello and the victory was assured.
The Raiders made eight treys in the second half, 10 on the night, with Robert Grant making three and scoring 11 points to lead the way. Also in double figures was Hunter Thomas, who scored 10 points.
The Bucks, for the fourth game in a row, had four players in double figures with Duncan scoring 18, Hatch a career high 16 points, Black 11 and Freestone with 10.
The Bucks again shot over 50 percent on the night, 63 percent from two-point land on 22 of 35 shots, but were a dismal three of 13 from the three-point line.
They made 17 of 24 free throws, led by Hatch’s perfect six for six night. Duncan was 4-5 from the charity stripe. Freestone and Duncan bhad six rebounds and Black added five.
The Bucks host Pinnacle on January 27, a change from the schedule since they traveled to Price for the first game on account of worrisome weather.