MHS vs Duchene boys basketball
MHS vs Piute
MHS vs Diamond Ranch
by Scott Boyle
State 1A basketball champs. That has a nice ring to it; never been said before of a Monticello High School team.
“State 2A basketball champs” was heard way back in 1994. But never “1A”, until Saturday night, when the Cinderella Buckaroos captured the 1A State Basketball Championship by downing the favored Panguitch Bobcats, 34-31.
Panguitch, with a 24-1 record, 20 wins in a row, ranked number two and fresh off a 33-26 semifinal upset of number one Rich, looked to ride the coat tails of Tyce Barney to the state title. Barney is a four-year start and the leading scorer in 1A, averaging 24 points a game.
But the Buckaroos had other ideas.
Riding their defense like a tame mustang, the Bucks used defense to stride confidently to the victory over Panguitch, along with some outstanding free throw shooting of their own.
tough defense kept the Buck’s vaunted shooting attack at bay the entire game as well, allowing only nine field goals, three of them three-pointers.
But, one night after making eight free throws in a row to put away the Duchesne Eagles, junior Sheldon Black again led the way for the Buckaroos.
Black accounted for four of the Buckaroo buckets in the game and the only MHS baskets in the four quarter, two big three pointers, besides draining four of six free throws in the last minute of the game to hold of the Bobcats.
Not only that, but he grabbed eight big rebounds and only had one turnover, scoring 14 points.
Senior Austin Maloy scored seven points in his last Buckaroo game, but probably more importantly, he and fellow senior Tanner Eardley held Barney to only nine points. Barney has scored in double figures every game this year and 73 of his last 76 games.
The Bucks grabbed the lead at the first moments of the game with a Black field goal and held the lead nearly the whole game. They held the Bobcats to just one field goal in the first quarter to lead 7-2.
The Bobcats returned the favor in the second quarter to tie the score at nine to nine at halftime.
The third quarter saw the Bucks eek out a five-point lead at 20-15 only to have the Bobcats tie it by the end of the quarter at 20-20.
Two Eardley free throws and Black’s first trey gave the Bucks another five point lead at 25-20 with 6:30 left, but the Bobcats came back again to actually take the lead at 26-25 with 5:21 left.
The teams traded turnovers and missed buckets for nearly four minutes before Black finally put the Bucks ahead to stay with a trey from the top of the key with just 1:43 left.
He added two free throw over the next 45 seconds to give the Bucks a five-point lead.
A desperation three from the Bobcats with eight seconds closed the lead to one at 32-31, but after a timeout, the Bucks inbounded the ball to Black, who was fouled and calmly made both freebies.
Another desperate trey attempt by Panguitch, and the Bucks were state champs!
For the tournament, the Bucks were awesome from the foul line, shooting 81 percent on 56 of 69 attempts. Black was particularly accurate in the fourth quarters, canning 12 of 14 in the last two games.
The state basketball championship, the second for MHS and 50th state title overall, gives the Bucks the honor of being the only 1A school to win both the wrestling and basketball state championships in the same year. Wasatch did it twice in 3A.
So, how did the Bucks get to the championship? The first game found the Buckaroos matched up against the unpredictable Diamond Ranch Diamond Backs, owners of a 10-10 record, but had two players that average 21 and 19 points apiece. And they come from the always tough Region 20, even though they were a fifth place team.
In the first quarter, Diamond Ranch showed what they were capable of, taking the early lead and maintaining it for most of the quarter. The Buckaroos didn’t gain their first lead until 30 seconds remained in the quarter.
Even so, the Diamond Backs struck like lightening at the end of the quarter, scoring five points in the last 10 seconds to take an 18-15 lead.
The Bucks defense tightened in the second quarter, and when Nic Doughty, the 19-point scorer, went to the bench with four fouls, the momentum shifted.
The Bucks pressure man-to-man defense forced a number of turnovers and steals, which the Bucks used to their advantage to seize the lead and forge an 11-point lead at half, 35-24.
MHS continued to push and stretched their lead to as high as 16 points at 53-37. But Saxon Mingus, the 21-point man, got hot, hit a couple of threes to close the gap to 54-44 after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, a Diamond Back press gave the Buckaroos some problems. They ended with 14 turnovers, most of them in the second half, but the Bucks countered the Mingus’ Monster Scoring March (he ended with 29 points and 13 rebounds), to put the game away in the fourth quarter, 77-63, mostly from the foul line.
The Bucks hit 16-18 freebies in the second half and 19-21 overall to keep the Snakes at bay.
The Bucks one-two punch of Tanner Eardley and Austin Maloy was just too much for the Diamond Backs. Eardley finished with 21 points, including four treys, while Maloy added 20 points, on some acrobatic drives and seven for seven from the foul line.
It was a total team effort, though, offensively; Easton Nielson 10 points, (six of seven free throws), Dillon Maughan eight, and Matt Freestone with nine points; and defensively, 14 steals (Maloy with six), rebounds (Matt Freestone with seven off the bench) and blocks (Freestone with six).
The quarterfinals brought another Region 20 team to the floor against the Buckaroos. Piute, the second place team in the region and ranked third in state and lead to a intense contest. The Bucks dramatically pulled out the victory when senior Dillon Maughan canned a three pointer with one second left to win 45-42.
The Bucks took advantage of a perhaps tired Piute team (they beat Tabiona in overtime the night before) in the first quarter, shooting their way to a 13-6 first quarter lead.
The Buck defense was at it’s best, holding the Thunderbirds scoreless for nearly four minutes in the quarter.
Nielson got things going with MHS with five quick points on a trey and a layup to pace the early scoring. Maloy kept it going with three drives to the basket for six first quarter points himself.
Eardley dropped in nine points in a flurry to keep the Bucks on top after the Thunderbirds rallied in the second quarter. By halftime, the lead was down to four at 23-19.
The third quarter saw the Thunderbirds continue to claw their way back, and at one point actually grabbing a three point lead at 33-30. The Bucks, well, Maughan, took center stage then with eight straight points on two threes and a field goal to get back a three point lead at the quarter, 38-35.
The fourth quarter was a defensive dream and an offensive nightmare for both teams. The Bucks missed their first six shots of the quarter while the Thunderbirds were one for four.
After two Buckaroo baskets by Sheldon Black and Matt Freestone and one basket and two free throws by Piute, the Bucks led 42-39 with 4:38 left.
It was the last Buckaroo score until the final second, although Piute chipped away at the Buck lead from the foul line. Two Buckaroo miscues against the Piute press, gave the Thunderbirds a foul shot that tied the game at 42 and the ball with 2:52 remaining.
The Thunderbirds worked the ball around, looking only for a layup, taking nearly two minutes off the clock, but the Bucks played great fundamental defense, denying the T-Birds any chances at the basket.
Eardley and Maloy teamed up to steal the ball with 1:06 left, but the T-Birds had a great defensive play to prevent a go-ahead layup and the lead. With the ball back, the T-Birds drove the lane for a layup, but Nielson got his hand on the ball, and the Bucks had the ball back with 50 seconds.
Suddenly, Eardley found himself wide open from three with 26 seconds left, but missed, only to have Nielson rebound and miss the follow up before Piute knocked the ball out of bounds. Twenty-one seconds, Buckaroo ball.
The final play was designed for Maloy, getting him the ball at the top of the key, using a Freestone screen to drive to the basket and score on a layup.
Everything worked just like they drew it up until Maughan’s defender slid over to interrupt Maloy’s drive, leaving Maughan wide open. Maughan, perhaps recalling brother Kendall’s game tying three-pointer at the buzzer against Rich three years ago, calmly swished the three-pointer with 1.2 seconds left.
Piute’s try at the buzzer fell harmlessly to the floor, the coaches and players kept dancing and the Bucks were in the semis against Duchesne, just like last year.
In the semis, the Bucks were matched up with an old football nemesis, the Duchesne Eagles, who boasted a strong inside game. Also, Duchesne traveled to Monticello just a month ago and came away with a three point win over the Bucks, 52-49.
But the Buckaroos played their best game of the year and shocked everyone with an emotional 62-46 win and a trip to the finals for the first time since 1994, when the Bucks took the 2A state title.
The Bucks lead throughout the game (Duchesne last led at 6-5 halfway through the first quarter). Once the Bucks got the lead for good on a Matt Freestone bucket, their defense kept the Eagles from mounting a comeback. They lead 10-8 after one quarter, increased it to five at halftime at 22-17.
They kept the momentum up in the third quarter, increasing the lead to 37-26 when Dillon Maughan brought the crowd to its feet for the second night in a row.
Maughan was fouled with just 1.8 seconds left in the quarter. He made the first, and in a play that epitomized the Buckaroo evening, missed the second, but leapt to grab the rebound and toss it back up into the basket at the buzzer to give the Bucks a 40-26 lead and demoralize the Eagles.
The fourth quarter, the Eagles made a little run after the Bucks stretched their lead to 18 points at 46-28, going on a 12-1 run to close within seven with 3:17 remaining in the game.
But the Bucks then turned to the foul line, hitting 15 free throws in a row to put the game on ice. Sheldon Black was eight for eight from the line in the last three minutes, while Tanner Eardley was four for four and Maughan made three more.
Maughan led the way from the scoring column with 15 points, 12 coming in the second half. He also had five assists.
Eardley scored 14, making six of seven foul shots. Sheldon Black scored 13 points and was nine of ten from the foul line, while collecting three steals on defense. Austin Maloy scored 10 points, eight in the critical second half had six rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Defensively, the Bucks managed nine steals and forced the Eagles into 20 turnovers to get to the championship game against Panguitch, who upset the number one ranked Rich Rebels.