by Scott Boyle
The Monticello Bucks boys basketball team ran their pre-season record to 6-1 with another confidence-building win over the Grand County Red Devils Friday night in Moab.
The Bucks used balanced scoring-six Buckaroos scored at least eight points-to overcome the Red Devils’ three-man offensive effort, a 19 point outburst by Red Devil Adam Jenkinson, 13 by Kaden Risenhoover and 11 by Koi Cook, to score the 63-56 win to sweep the 4-3 Red Devils on the season.
Earlier in December, the Bucks pulled out a tough 67-61 win over the Red Devils in Monticello.
This time around Austin Maloy and Easton Nielson led the Bucks in scoring with 12 points apiece.
Nielson was particularly effective from the three point line, tossing down three treys for coach Tony Esplin’s bunch. Maloy had one trey as did Sheldon Black, who scored 11 points, and Dillon Maughan, who ended with nine points.
Sophomore post player Matt Freestone added nine points and junior Everett Hatch had eight important points to give the Bucks plenty of scoring options.
The Buckaroos held slight leads at the end of each quarter, leading 19-15 after one quarter, 34-29 at halftime, and 52-46 after three quarters and held on down the stretch in a close win.
With a final tune-up at Dove Creek on Thursday, the Bucks are ready for region play, which begins this week with a Friday matchup in Monticello against Navajo Mountain.
Maloy leads the Bucks in scoring averaging, 16 points per game, with Maughan and Nielson scoring at an eight point per game clips, Black with seven ppg and Freestone, six.
Discussing the win, Buckaroo Coach Tony Esplin said, “We had very balanced scoring. Moab was keying heavy on stopping Austin, who had scored 31 on them the last time we played. That gave the other kids pretty good open looks.
Austin did a good job, as well as everyone else, in sharing and moving the basketball, making the extra pass to keep Moab scrambling to keep up on defense.
“We have encouraged the kids to take ‘good’ open shots within our offense, and discourage breaking away from our team concept and doing our own thing. So far the kids have done a pretty good job of being unselfish.”
When asked about the keys to the win, Esplin said, “I think the keys to our win were good defense from the start, and sharing the ball on offense. We kind of picked Moab up in a full court man defense and were able to get several picks for layups early.
“It also got us in early foul trouble, but the kids off the bench responded really well and didn’t miss a beat.
“Moab is much bigger than we are in about every position, but our focus on a team defense really made it possible for us to slow Moab down on offense.”
In a discussion about the strenths and weaknesses of the team, Esplin added, “I think our strengths are good kids who have accepted the challenge of teamwork both on offense and defense.
“About everyone can score from almost anywhere, and everyone can guard the post with our team concept. Also the kids just have not been rattled when the opponent makes a run at them and they find a way to answer back.
“Weaknesses may be that it is tough to consistently hit the outside shot night in and night out. So far we have made just enough to keep ahead of the opponents.
Finally, I asked about the return of senior Tanner Eardley, who was injred in early December. Esplin said, “We do not know when Tanner will return, he has an appointment on January 7, we will know more after that meeting.”
Lady Bucks fall to Grand
The Buckaroo gals lost their return match with Grand on Saturday in Moab, 45-27, dropping their preseason record to 6-4. Shailee and Talaunee Croasmun outscored the Lady Bucks all by themselves after Shailee dropped 20 on the Bucks and Talaunee scored eight.
Coach Ben Wolford’s gals had a hard time finding the bucket with only Zoe Chadwick scoring in double figures with 10.
The Red Devils raced to a 10-3 first quarter lead as the Bucks couldn’t find the hoop and extended the lead to 22-9 at halftime.
The third quarter found the Buck shooters a little more relaxed but they still trailed 34-20. Grand extended the lead in the fourth by four points to get the winning 18 point.
Chadwick, a junior, continues to lead the Lady Buckaroos in scoring into region play with a 14 point per game average.
Fellow junior, Mary Beh, is the second leading scorer with seven ppg. Freshman Atlanta Black averages 6.5 points per game, senior Aapree Sheeran is contributing at a four ppg clip, with freshmen, Allie Maughan and Izabel Slade averaging three points per game.
The girls also open Region 19 play at home on Friday against Navajo Mountain. Girls Varsity begins at 5 P.M with the boys game scheduled immediately after at 7 P.M.
I spent the holidays in South Florida, the first such trip to that region of the USA. South Florida, Miami, is an amazing place, a nice place to visit, especially in the winter, but too many people for me to want to live there.
The South Florida population is crammed, quite nicely I might add, in about a 25-30 mile wide strip along the scenic Atlantic Coastline, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Everglades on the west.
Every bit of available land is utilized by people. On the thin border between the development and the Everglades is the most productive farmland I have ever seen.