by Tad Barton
The San Juan Bronco wrestling team had an eventful weekend in Richfield at the 2A Divisional Championships last Friday and Saturday, February 3 and 4.
When the final match was over, four Broncos had punched their ticket to this weekend’s 2A State Championships.
They are led by senior Coleman Black and junior DJ Howell, who placed fifth at 182 lbs and 170 lbs, respectively. Junior Grange Simpson placed sixth, while fellow junior Druman Gomez took seventh at 220 lbs.
The 2A State Championships will be held Friday and Saturday, February 10 and 11 at the UCCU Center on the campus of Utah Valley University in Orem. Weigh-in will begin at 11 a.m. on Friday the 10th, with the wrestling getting underway at 1 p.m.
For the first time in eight years, the San Juan Broncos swept their season series with the Monticello Buckaroos with a 20-point win, 61-41, on Wednesday, February 1 in Blanding.
The Broncos also won the two teams’ first matchup, which was played in Monticello on December 22 by a score of 74-42.
The Broncos came out of the gates running as they jumped out to an 8-0 lead, six of those points coming from Zach Brown, who finished with a game high 17 points.
The Bucks went on a mini-run of their own but were outscored by San Juan, 16-7, in the first quarter.
With the way the game began, it looked as if the Broncos might run away with the game, but the Bucks wouldn’t go quietly into the night. Monticello kept pace with San Juan in the second quarter, but the Broncos increased the lead by two points, outscoring the Bucks 18-16 to take a 34-23 lead at the half.
After the intermission, San Juan stepped up their defense, forcing Monticello to commit a number of turnovers. The turnovers not only limited the Buckaroo scoring opportunities, but led to easy points for the Broncos. San Juan scored 16 points in the third while holding Monticello to just four points and pushing their lead to 23 points, 50-27.
In spite of trailing big, the Bucks kept playing hard and were able to outscore San Juan in the fourth quarter, 14-11, but the damage had already been done, and the Broncos picked up the win, 61-41.
The Broncos had a balanced scoring attack led by Brown’s 17. Jaden Torgerson was right on Brown’s heels, netting 15 points.
Seth Pugh continued his hot streak from behind the arc, hitting three threes for nine points. Jordan Blake finished with eight points, followed by Dylan Ivins with six points.
Jaxon Lee had four points, Jaxon Torgerson had three and Ethan Pugh finished with two points for the Broncos.
Leading the way for the Bucks is Jake Freestone with 12 points. Lucas Hatch also hit the double digit mark in the scoring column, notching 10 points. Carson Duncan had seven points, Spencer Knudson chipped in six, while Talon Black and Ryan Bird each had three points for Monticello.
On Friday night, February 3, things didn’t go as well for the Broncos against Grand. They came into the game leading the Red Devils by half a game in the Region 15 standing.
Although Grand only led by seven after the first, they dominated the quarter and led San Juan by a score of 24-17, heading into the second quarter.
The Red Devils’ fast start was only upstaged by their second quarter play, as they built a 17-point lead in the period by outscoring the Broncos 18-8 to take a 42-25 lead at half time.
The third quarter started with Grand pushing the lead to 20 points before San Juan began to slowly crawl back into the game.
The Broncos’ 21 point effort on offense, coupled with improved defensive play that held the Red Devils to 16 points, brought San Juan to within 12, 58-46, heading into the final quarter of the game.
In the fourth quarter, the Bronco quest to pull off the comeback came within one point, 68-67, with just over a minute left in the game. With time working against them, San Juan was forced to foul, putting Grand on the free throw line, where they were able to put the game away and hand the Broncos their second loss of the year in Region 15, 73-68.
Blake finished the game with a game high 24 points, while Jaden Torgerson dropped in 19. Ivins also surpassed the 10-point mark, scoring 12 points. Brown finished with five points, Lee had four, and Ramsey Holliday rounded out the scoring with three points.
San Juan’s next game is Wednesday, February 8 at home against the Emery Spartans. This is the last Bronco home game of the season and Senior Night.
San Juan will finish their regular season schedule on Friday the 10th in Manti, as they take on the Templars. Both games are scheduled for a 7 p.m. tipoff.
Like their male counterparts, the Lady Broncos also split a pair of games last week. They lost a heartbreaker to Monticello on Tuesday, January 31 in Monticello, 49-42. San Juan rebounded on Thursday, February 2 by defeating Grand in Moab, 56-46.
A slow start proved to be the difference for the Broncos against the Bucks in their first game of the week. Scoring just four points in the opening stanza, while Monticello scored 12, put San Juan in a big hole they were never quite able to climb out of.
The deficit remained eight points, 21-13, at the half after both squads scored nine points in the second quarter.
The Broncos began a comeback in the third quarter, as they pulled within three before ultimately cutting the Monticello lead by just one point, outscoring the Bucks 17-16 in the period.
Trailing by seven points, 36-29, to start the fourth and final quarter, San Juan once again closed the gap in the score to three points late in the game, but the Bucks put the game away at the free throw line to claim a 49-42 victory.
Free throws proved to be the difference in the game as Monticello hit 25 of 39 from the charity stripe, while the Broncos were 10 of 18 from the line.
Atlanta Black led all scorers with 21 points. Ashley Adair finished with eight points, Allie Maughn had seven, and Alyssa Reeve and Izabel Slade each scored six points. Tristen Esplin added one point for the Bucks in the win.
The Broncos finished the game with nine players scoring, led by Bodell Nielson’s 10 points. Madison Palmer had eight points and Nizhonii Begaye had six points.
Megan Grover and Delaney Palmer each scored five points for San Juan, while Chamique Lopez, Jordyn Moon, Krystelle Noyes and Ryann Shumway each finished with two points.
Against Grand, the Broncos got things rolling early, but at the end of the first quarter still found themselves down by one, 13-12.
San Juan took control of the game in the second quarter, scoring 15 points while holding the Red Devils to 10 points to take a 27-23 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Broncos increased their lead to seven points out pacing the Red Devils 13-10 in the quarter.
San Juan saved their best for last though, as they put 16 points on the scoreboard in the fourth, while only giving up 13 to Grand, taking the win, 56-46.
Madison and Delaney Palmer led the way for San Juan. The freshmen duo combined to score 25 points, with Madison scoring 12 and Delaney 13.
Moon and Nielson just missed hitting double digits, finishing with nine and eight points, respectively. Shumway tallied five points; Grover added three; and Noyes, Begaye, and Tasiah Little each scored two points in the win.
The win improved the Broncos to 5-3 in Region 15, putting them solidly in third place in the region.
On Friday, February 10, the Broncos will honor their senior players on Senior Night when they face off against Manti in their final home game of the season. The game is set to begin at 7 p.m.