by Scott Boyle
The Monument Valley Cougars have never beaten the Monticello Buckaroos in boys basketball and after a loss to San Juan JV just last week, it looked liked they were headed for a loss to the Bucks on Friday night in Monticello.
But the Buckaroos just squeaked by the Cougars, 56-53, when the Cougars used a frenetic pressing defense that forced the Buckaroos into a passel of turnovers (21 to be exact) and an active offense with the three pointer as the focus (seven) to keep the game close.
The Bucks looked like they would handily win the game after the first quarter, forging a 15-2 lead when Dillon Maughan started the Bucks off on fire with 11 of the 15 Buckaroo points, including three three-pointers.
Maughan made four of seven for the quarter, but the rest of the team made just two of 13 shots, a harbinger of things to come. They were particularly cold from the three-point line.
The Cougars slowed down Maughan in the second quarter and began finding the range themselves as the Bucks had eight turnovers in the quarter. The Cougars clawed their way back into the game, trailing 19-13 at halftime. The Bucks hit two buckets on 13 shots.
The third quarter saw Austin Maloy and Tanner Eardley begin to find the range. Maloy, the Buck’s leading scorer, was scoreless in the first half, and Eardley was making his first appearance since sitting out six weeks with a broken wrist. Maloy and Eardley helped the Bucks back to an 11 points lead after three, 38-27.
The Cougars kept coming, pressing the Bucks, forcing turnovers and slowly bringing the score closer, closer and closer. A final Cougar three pointer with just three seconds left brought the Cougars back within three, but Maughan dribbled out the three seconds and preserved the win.
Eardley and Maughan led the Bucks with 13 points apiece. Eardley also had eight rebounds, while Maughan had six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Easton Nielson added nine points and came up big in the rebounding department with 13. Sheldon Black scored nine. For the night, the Bucks shot 38 percent on 21 of 57. From the three-point line they hit just four of 16, or 25 percent.
The Cougars were led by Lawrence Atene, who came off the bench to score 17, including three treys. Jumaine June had 14 points with four treys.
The win moves the Bucks to 8-1 on the year and 2-0 in region play. The Bucks are on the road at Green River Tuesday and Whitehorse Friday.
The Lady Buckaroos were 1-1 on the week, with a heartbreaking overtime loss at Green River and a good rebound win over Monument Valley.
In a foul-plagued contest at Green River, (the teams combined to shoot 70 free throws), the Lady Bucks rallied from an eight point deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the game, sending it into overtime before losing, 46-40.
Green River, 6-6 on the year, jumped to a 14-6 lead after one quarter and a 30-22 after three. The Lady Bucks outscored the Pirates 13-5 in the fourth to force overtime, but couldn’t make foul shots in overtime while the Pirates made theirs.
For the night, the Bucks made 14 of 33 from the foul line, while the Pirates made 15 of 37.
Zoe Chadwick led all scorers with 17 as the Lady Bucks suffered their first region loss of the year.
Coach Ben Wolford’s team bounced back with a solid 47-36 win over the Cougars in Monticello. The Bucks led 10-1 after the first quarter and stretched it to 23-7 by halftime. The foul line was a much happier place for the Lady Buckaroos as they made 15 of 17 in the first half to forge a big lead.
Chadwick was particularly effective at the foul line, swishing nine of ten in the half. For the game, the Lady Bucks were 16 of 24 from the foul line.
Chadwick led the Buckaroos in scoring with 12. Atlanta Black contributed 11, including the Lady Buck’s second three-pointer of the year.
The win leaves the Lady Buckaroos at 9-5 on the year and 2-1 in Region 19, good enough for third place.
Next up is a trip to first place Whitehorse Friday.