They open Wednesday at 2:30 against the 8-12 Wendover Wildcats. The only common opponents for the Bucks and Wildcats is Wasatch Academy, to whom the Wildcats split two games and the Bucks blasted 60-27.
If they win, they play Escalante, to whom they lost 70-45 way back in December, or Christian Heritage, the number one seed from Region 17.
Against the Pirates, junior Daniel Torres was on fire, tossing in 28, including six threes. Joseph Weatherford chipped in 18 and Connor Frost, Dalton Rogers and Cory Eardley all pitched in nine. Chris Larsen contributed eight points off the bench.
My daughter plays a game where she tries to tie two people together in as few connections as possible. Let’s play with some folks who have ties to San Juan County and who have achieved great things lately. Here are just a few.
Colten Huskey, of Dolores County High School in Dove Creek, won the 2A 135-pound state wrestling title in Colorado Saturday. Huskey, a junior, won 7-2 in the finals to close the season 36-1 and win his first state championship.
Huskey has lost three times in his career. His only loss this year was to Aaron Butler, the four time state champion from Monticello, who triumphed 10-4. Colten’s aunt, Lora Huskey, is a resident of Monticello, and his dad supplies the new pots on Monticello’s Main Street.
The Parowan High School boys basketball team finished second in the State 2A Tournament, losing to Manti, 58-49. This same Parowan team ended San Juan’s excellent 2008 season, upsetting the Broncos 57-55 in overtime to open the playoffs.
The Parowan coach is Monty Jones, who grew up in Blanding and played for San Juan High, the son of long time San Juan coach, the late Dennis Jones. The younger Jones is in the record books for scoring 57 points, including ten treys, in a 1996 game. Jones is in his third year coaching at Parowan.
Manti’s coach for the past 10 years is Mark Hugentobler, who played sports for Monticello High. He began his coaching and teaching career at Monticello High and coached the Bucks to their only state championship in 1994. Hugentobler took the head basketball job at Manti in 1997.
With his most recent state title, Hugentobler joins an elite group of coaches (21) with three or more state basketball titles, and is one of eight who have won championships at two schools.
Of these coaching milestones, Hugentobler said, “I’ve been fortunate to be able to work with some great players. Great players make great coaches. I think more about the four that got away. The first was in Monticello in 1993. A first round loss put us in the consolation bracket. Then we won the last three by 20. Tournament experience cost us a real shot there.
“The second was my fourth year in Manti. We lost the championship game at the buzzer after four missed free throws. A year later, we lost a great opportunity in the semifinal game, when we squandered a 14-point lead.
“The hardest was four years ago against Parowan, who played their best game of the year. The officiating was terrible. Afterwards I found out that the official from Milford ‘wasn’t going to let Manti win’. Words from his own mouth. He said it to the principal of Beaver High, who is now my assistant principal.
“The neatest record for me really isn’t a record. I have been able to coach three of my boys and all three have played major roles on State Championship teams.
Another connection: Manti’s last loss of the season, before winning 10 straight and the title, came on February 2 at the hands of the San Juan Broncos in Blanding, 68-66. Bronco head coach Ryan Nielson played for Hugentobler in Monticello before transferring to San Juan, where he won a state title with the 1992 Broncos, coached by Dennis Jones.
In that February loss for Manti, the Broncos came back from a 14 point deficit. The Broncos won after David Hugentobler missed two free throws with three seconds left and was called for a foul and a technical foul on the rebound, which the Broncos turned into four points and the win.
“I believe our composure (even though we lost) was critical to our success” said the coach. “David’s passion has always been his biggest strength as well as his Achilles heel. His ability to control that passion has been a long and arduous process. It has been worth it.”
“Our selflessness was the key to our success,” Hugentobler continues. “I’ve never asked a boy to do what I asked David to do. He had been the leading scorer on EVERY team he’s played on since the 3rd grade. He would have been this year too, had we not made some adjustments. I don’t believe our team would have been as good as it was.
“His willingness to give up personal glory helped our team. As a result of this leadership, we had different boys step up in each game.”
In the girls 5A state basketball final, Skyline defeated American Fork, 60-56. The young Lady Cavemen (Cavewomen?) were paced by several players, including Makenzie Moea’i. Moea’i, a sophomore, greatly aided her team in the championship game with 11 rebounds and 12 points. She is the daughter of the former Danette Coleman, who played basketball and volleyball at Monticello High School. Danette’s father, Richard Coleman grew up in Dove Creek and surely knows the Huskeys.
Finally, Whitehorse High School goes into this week’s 1A boys state tournament as the favorite. Whitehorse’s coach? Chad Shumway, who also played basketball for Dennis Jones and the San Juan Broncos.