by Walter & Becky Bird
Just before the Christmas break, the Lady Buckaroos traveled to Richfield for the 2A Central Utah Basketball Preview with games at the Sevier Valley Center December 20-21 against Kanab and Beaver.
On Friday, the Lady Bucks played hard against Kanab but fell to the Cowgirls by the score of 50-22.
Saturday’s game with Beaver was closer, but the Lady Bucks ended up dropping that game 36-27 to the Lady Beavers and fell to 3-5 on the season.
Hoping a little time off would do the girls some good, the team refocused the week of New Year’s and prepared with several days of practice for a January 3, Friday night home match-up with the No. 5 ranked team in 1A girls basketball – the Monument Valley Lady Cougars.
Monticello opened with an early 2-0 lead, but that was quickly erased as the Lady Cougars raced out to a commanding 22-11 first quarter lead.
The Monument Valley lead grew to 40-19 at the half and left the Lady Bucks a lot of work in the second half to get back in the game.
Monticello played well in the second half, winning the third quarter 13-10 and the fourth quarter 17-12.
Despite the rally, the Lady Bucks fell short and dropped the game 62-49 to a very quality opponent.
One stat head coach Kraig Black should be encouraged about in the loss was his team’s improved overall shooting percentage from previous games.
The Lady Bucks hit 43.1 percent of their shot attempts and were a very good 40 percent from three-point land.
Brooklyn Holt led the team with a monster 22-point effort, adding 13 rebounds, three steals, and an assist.
Megan Black scored eight points, five rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a block. Olivia Chamberlain had her best varsity game of the season tossing in seven points.
Maddy Freestone scored six points on two threes and added two rebounds, two assists, and a steal.
Rianna Shumway ended the game with four points, but added four assists and three steals. Sister Avery Shumway tossed in two points and also had two rebounds and two steals.
One of the most glaring stats of the game was turnovers, of which the teams combined for 59 – Monticello 31 and Monument Valley 28.
However, to the detriment of the Lady Bucks, Monument Valley was able to convert the Monticello miscues into 27 points whereas the Lady Bucks only scored 15 off turnovers.
In addition, the Lady Cougars scored 20 transition points in the game to only four scored by Monticello. Monument Valley also held the edge in points in the paint, scoring 42 to Monticello’s 28.
With the loss, Monticello dropped to 3-6 on the season headed into Region 16 play this week.
They took on the North Sevier Lady Wolves Tuesday, January 7 in Salina, UT.
They’ll host the Gunnison Lady Bulldogs on Thursday, January 9. The varsity game tips off at 7 p.m and you can hear it live on 103.9 KAAJ-LP FM.
The next night, Friday, January 10, the Lady Bucks travel to Dove Creek to play the Lady Bulldogs.
The Monticello High School boys basketball team also saw action before the Christmas break on December 21 and 22 when they traveled to Dove Creek to play in the annual Bulldog Classic.
The Bucks got off to a great start, knocking off the Nucla, CO Mustangs by a score of 56-48 on Friday night. After Dove Creek nipped the Whitehorse Raiders that same night 51-50, the stage was set for a Dove Creek and Monticello matchup in the championship game on Saturday.
The Bucks had prevailed over Dove Creek 68-32 in Monticello on December 13, so it was an interesting rematch across the state line in Colorado.
In the end, the Bucks never trailed in the game and prevailed over the Bulldogs 58-43 to win the tournament and improve to 4-4 on the season.
Every year, its interesting to see how a team will respond after a long layoff. After the Christmas break and a couple of days of school and practice, the Bucks had a scheduled date with the 1A Green River Pirates in Green River on Friday, January 3.
The game had the feel of a trap game after Monticello pounded the Pirates at home 55-35 on December 12. And that feeling was true as the game played out.
Green River came out inspired for several reasons. First, it was a pink night fundraiser for a community member that is battling cancer.
The players, coaches, and many in the crowd sported pink socks, sweatbands, and headbands in a show of support for the cancer victim.
Second, Green River hadn’t beaten Monticello since their state runner-up team squeaked past the Bucks in a wild game in Monticello in 2015 that decided the region title that year and seeding at the state 1A tournament.
With that said the Pirates held a 15-12 edge over Monticello after the first quarter.
Green River kept rolling in the second period against a seemingly sluggish and uninspired Monticello team to extend their lead to 27-23 at the half.
Instead of coming out in the third quarter with a greater sense of urgency, Monticello saw the Pirate lead swell to 43-33 with one period to play.
The Bucks finally showed some life in the final period, locking down on defense and causing some turnovers.
But when Dylan Bird’s front end of a one-and-one fell off the rim with mere seconds to play, Monticello’s chances were done, and they succumbed 58-56 to the Pirates.
As a team, Monticello hit 42.6 percent of their shots and a paltry two of 12 from deep. The Bucks were also a mediocre eight of 15 from the line.
Team stats aside, without Cedar English, this game would not have even been as close as he poured in 27 points with one three-point basket. To that total he added seven rebounds, three assists, four steals, and two blocks.
Dylan Bird added seven points and contributed eight assists, four steals, and two rebounds. Boston Freestone hit six points, pulled down five rebounds, and had three steals.
Aaron Christiansen also had six points with four rebounds and a three-point basket. Devin Hatch and Cory Bunker put in four points apiece, and Carson King scored two points.
Conversely, the Pirates shot the ball well, hitting 49 percent of their shots, including four threes that were critical to holding off the Bucks.
The Pirates also won the rebound battle, pounding Monticello 41-22 on the boards. These rebounds led to 38 Green River points in the paint and 13 second chance points.
Monticello did win the assist, steal, and turnover battles, outdistancing the Pirates 18-13, 13-6, and 24-12 in those statistical categories.
With the loss, Monticello dropped to 4-5 on the season heading into Region 16 play this week. They take on the North Sevier Wolves Wednesday, January 8 in Salina, UT.
They host the Gunnison Bulldogs on Friday, January 10 with the varsity game tipping off at 7 p.m. You can hear that one live on 103.9 KAAJ-LP FM also.