On January 24 in Monticello, the Bucks had a rematch with the San Juan Broncos, hoping to pull a win out of the hat after that overtime loss in December.
And for the third year in a row, the teams split the annual rivalry series after the Bucks took a thrilling 49-48 win that wasn’t decided until the final buzzer.
The Buckaroos started strong, forcing the Broncos into 16 first half turnovers, including 12 steals off of a dandy full court zone press and forging a daunting 25-11 halftime lead.
Jake Duncan, Austin Maloy, and Gunnar Hollingsworth were particularly effective in the first half, each scoring seven points. Duncan added three steals and four rebounds in that half, Hollingsworth had two steals, one block and three rebounds, while Maloy had three steals and two rebounds himself.
But the Broncos weren’t toast yet. Finally figuring out the Buckaroo press, the Broncos scored the first seven points of the second half and began to slowly chip away at the Buckaroo lead.
Barkley Christensen began to find the range, and when he drew the Buckaroo defense to him, found Landon Palmer wide open underneath. Palmer scored 16 of his team high 18 points in the second half. And the Broncos had closed the lead to 37-28 after three quarters.
The Broncos outscored the Buckaroos 10-1 to start the fourth quater and with five minutes remaining, Christensen knotted the score with his second trey of the night, 38-38.
The Bucks went back inside to Duncan to forge ahead once more and force the Broncos to continue to play catchup. The teams traded baskets or free throws for the rest of the time.
A key play came with 38 seconds left, when the Bucks, nursing a 45-44 lead, came out of a timeout with everyone thinking they were going to milk the clock. But Terek Esplin raced the ball up court to a perfectly positioned Jake Duncan, who scored and was fouled by Ammon Mitchell, his fifth.
Duncan added the freebie and the Bucks were up three.
After trading baskets, the Broncos had the ball with 13 seconds left, down three. Christensen missed his trey attempt to tie and in the scrum underneath, Palmer found his mitts on the ball, tossed it in the basket and was fouled with five seconds remaining, down one.
The Bucks called timeout to give Palmer time to think about the game-tying free throw, which he missed, and the Bucks were victors, 49-48.
Duncan led the Buckaroo scorers with 17 points and eight rebounds. Maloy finished with 11 points, including six big free throws in the second half to help stave off the Bronco rally. Hollingsworth pitched in with nine.
For the Broncos, who were playing without second leading scorer, Logan Meyer, Christensen added 13 points and Mitchell ten.
The Bucks used the momentum from two tough wins over Grand and San Juan to pummel a rapidly improving Pinnacle team Friday night, 66-44.
At 9-6 on the year, the Pinnaclers own wins over such 1A teams as Escalanted and Dugway and only lost to Green River by six and boast some talented players. But the Bucks were simply too much for the boys from Price and their one-two punch on the inside of Hollingsworth and Duncan.
Duncan led the way with 13 points and Hollingsworth added 10. Senior point guard Terek Esplin had a fine game as well, tossing in 11. Maloy contributed eight and Jared Smith came off the bench to score nine second quarter points.
San Juan, however, lost their fifth straight Saturday night when traveled to Richfield and fell to the Wildcats, 56-42. A 18-4 defecit in the second quarter spelled doom for the Broncos. Christensen led the Broncos in scoring with 15 points. Meyer returned to the court to score 12. The Broncos fall to 6-10 on the year and only 1-4 in Region 15 play, tied for fourth place.
The Lady Broncos fell to Richfield as well, 58-41 in Blanding Saturday night in their only game of the week. Lindsey Christensen was a bright spot on offense, pouring in a career high 20 points, including four treys. But the Lady Broncos couldn’t slow down the Wildcats who rushed to a 49-20 lead after three quarters and cleared the bench from there. The loss drops Justin Moon’s team to 10-6 overall and 2-3 in region play.
The Lady Buckaroos finally got Swayzi Slade back just in time as they lost a rematch to Monument Valley 52-37 without her, but beat Pinnacle with her. The MV loss puts the Lady Bucks in precarious position in region play at 3-3 and fourth place. Martha Beh was the leading scorer against MV with 15 points.