Two blowout wins against much larger schools last week impressed local basketball fans, and have the Monticello Buckaroos dreaming of a state championship in March.
On December 1 in Monticello the Buckaroos blasted the Grand County Red Devils, 72-43.
Had the regulars stayed in the game longer, the blowout would have been worse for the Devils.
On December 5, Monticello embarrassed the 4-A Panthers of Montezuma County in Cortez, 57-39.
Coach Rhett Maughan is starting four juniors and one senior, which bodes well for the future. Starters are Dallin Duncan, (Jr) Devin Wright, (Jr) Kendal Maughan, (Jr) Steven Redd (Sr) and Cory Young (Jr). Reserves are Sean Getter (Sr) Tyler Ketron (Sr) Hendrik Benally (Sr) Josh Anderson (Sr) Colby Draper (Jr) Adam Black (So) and Terek Esplin (So).
Six foot six inch junior Dallin Duncan poured in 29 points against Moab, and will be a powerful force inside. Wright and Maughan are fast and love to lead a sophisticated fast break. Redd (at 6’2”) and Young (6.1”) add size and strength under the basket.
The team (and the fans) like the up-tempo, fast break style Coach Maughan has taught. Defense is also impressive with the Buckaroos winning the turnover battle by margins similar to the point scores.
In his third year as the head of the basketball program at MHS, Maughan reports that this team “loves to play basketball. They work hard, are coachable, are willing to work as much on defense as offense, love the run and gun game, have amazing team chemistry, and have demonstrated more heart than any group I have ever worked with.”
Coach Maughan says if they can get by the teams in the region, the Buckaroos will have a great challenge in teams like Rich, Piute and Valley at state. Rhett says the top teams in 1-A are just as tough as anyone in 2-A because some of them do not play football, and focus on basketball year around.
He said he expects Whitehorse to be tough again this year in the region. The Raiders are perennial winners at state, and Maughan says they have a player this year that is as good as anyone he has ever seen in 1-A.
I asked Rhett why he would spend the time he does with the basketball team for a wage of about $1.50 an hour if you divide the hours he spends each year into the his annual salary of $2,000.
Obviously, he could make many times that amount if he spent those hours in his medical practice. “I love the game. I love the kids. There is nothing like seeing these great young men we have in Monticello set a goal and then give their all to achieve it.”
“Is there anything you would change in this ‘moonlighting’ gig of yours?” he was asked.
“The politics of trying to please everyone is hard on coaches. We really try to do the very best we can for the good of the team, the school and the community,” he said. It is a problem anywhere you coach high school age boys, and is not unique to Monticello, Coach Maughan added.
“I am so appreciative of the support I get from my assistant coaches, Tony Esplin and Josh Keyes, school administrators and my family. Community support is so important. These young men are tremendously motivated by the positive feedback they get from their fans and supporters at the games and in the community. Our support will be a big factor in how successful we are this year,” Maughan concluded.
This writer hopes Monticello will come to the games and catch the spirit of these young athletes. They are really fun to watch. If we could pack the gym for every home game this year, like we did back in the years when many of us played round-ball, Monticello has an excellent chance of bringing home a state championship this year.