by Scott Boyle
The 1A Girls State Basketball Tournament started well for the Lady Buckaroos with a first round win over Altamont, but two consecutive losses at the hands of Bryce Valley and Duchesne ended Monticello’s season one day earlier than hoped last Friday.
The Lady Bucks struggled to find the basket most of the tournament, though they got over the usual tournament jitters against Altamont after a shaky first quarter, where they lead just 11-8.
That second quarter against Altamont, with leading scorers Atlanta Black and Mary Beh on the bench in foul trouble, turned out to be the highest scoring quarter by far in the tournament for the Bucks.
Allie Maughan led the charge during that second quarter as the Bucks outscored the Longhorns 20-5 to take a commanding 31-13 halftime lead. Maughan had nine points during the second quarter run.
The Bucks kept the pressure up in the second half and were never threatened by the Longhorns, earning a 49-24 win and a quarterfinal matchup with the Region 20 number three seed, Bryce Valley.
Maughan led the scoring with a career high 13 points, while Black, Beh, and Isabel Slade scored eight points apiece. Michaela Wolford had seven.
Against the Mustangs of Bryce Valley, the basket seemed to shrink for the Lady Bucks, as they had a difficult time coping with the Bryce Valley defense for the second year in a row.
Last year, the Mustangs upset the Buckaroos as well in a first round game, 55-30. But the Lady Bucks own defense kept them in the game this time, though Bryce Valley never trailed. It was just 9-6 for Bryce Valley after one quarter and 18-12 at halftime, but shooting woes hurt the Bucks. Making only 12 of 23 from the foul line for the game didn’t help any either.
The Ladies could only score 12 more points in the second half, and when Bryce Valley made their foul shots in the fourth quarter, Monticello could never get closer than three points.
The Mustangs managed 11 points from the foul line in the fourth quarter to seal the upset win. Black and Wolford were top scorers for MHS with eight points each.
Another tough shooting night spelled the end of the tournament for the Ladies against the Eagles of Duchesne, who boast a starting five consisting of Kaylie, Shayla, Mashaylee, Melissa and Alyssa. Pity the coach trying to keep those names separate.
The Eagles, who blasted the Bucks just two weeks ago, 58-28, raced to a 25-15 halftime lead this time. And when the Bucks were unable to score a single point in the third quarter, the outcome was not in doubt, as the Bucks fell 42-27.
Black was leading scorer with 11 points, with senior Mary Beh scoring eight in her final game for the Lady Buckaroos.
The girls ended their season with a fine 14-8 record and lose only one senior, Beh, thus giving the girls lots of incentive for next year.
The Panguitch Lady Bobcats have been a dominant program in 1A girls sports after claiming their second straight 1A girls basketball title, going undefeated in the process for the second straight year, 51 wins in a row.
They also won the state volleyball crown last fall as well as the past two girls track and field titles, and... and four straight cross country titles for their ninth state championship in the last four years. Nine of 16 possible state titles in that span. That’s domination.
And Region 20 demonstrated their dominance in 1A basketball by placing four teams in the top four spots at state and another in sixth place. Five of the eight places were captured by Region 20.
In contrast, no teams from Region 19 placed at state this year, and the Bucks win over the Longhorns of Altamont was the region’s only win in the state tournament. And only one of the six games lost by Region 19 teams came to a Region 20 team. The rest were to teams who eventually lost to Region 20 teams.
After getting a little bit of a wake-up call on Tuesday by the Colorado 2A third ranked Ignacio, CO Bobcats, who are 16-2 on the season with 15 straight victories, the Monticello Bucks boys basketball team rebounded with two big wins Friday and Saturday over the Monument Valley Cougars and the Duchesne Eagles.
Cold shooting hampered the Bucks against the Bobcats, who finished third in Colorado 2A state last year, especially in the second and third quarters when the Bucks were outscored 24-6.
Sheldon Black with 13 and Matt Freestone with 12 points led the Bucks in scoring in the 45-32 loss.
The Bucks ran their Region 19 record to 7-0 with a rousing 93-53 win over the Cougars of Monument Valley.
The Bucks raced to a 20-2 first quarter lead and never looked back. By halftime, the Bucks led by 31 points and Coach Esplin emptied his bench.
Eleven Buckaroos found the hoop in the game with senior Sheldon Black finding it most often in his last home game as a Buckaroo, pouring in 26 points including five treys.
Senior Jens Brewer made his last home game a memorable one, filling the nets to the tune of 14 points and two treys, both career highs.
Matt Freestone added 12 points, while Makade Maloy and Tyler Bird both scored 11 points in the easy win.
The Bucks traveled to Duchesne to take on the always-tough Eagles on Saturday. In a hard fought effort, the Bucks overcame a four-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win by eight, 43-35.
Black and Freestone led the comeback with 17 and 10 points respectively. Black hit three threes to key the win. Tyler Bird added two more treys on his way to eight points to help the Buckaroo effort.
The two wins raise the third ranked 1A team to a 14-4 record on the season with one game left on the schedule.
The Bucks travel to Green River this Thursday with the Region title on the line. Green River stands at 6-1 in region play, while the Bucks sit at the top of the region standings with that unblemished 7-0 record.
State follows the week after at Richfield.