by Scott Boyle
The Monticello High School boys basketball team pushed their record to 3-1 over the weekend with two games at the 1A Preview in the Sevier Valley Center.
The number two ranked Buckaroos prevailed on Friday night against the number four ranked team in 1A, the Piute Thunderbirds, 42-39. The Bucks fell to the top-ranked Rich Rebels on Saturday, 36-30.
In a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal game, the Buckaroos prevailed again over the Thunderbirds of Piute by just three points after last season’s 45-42 MHS win.
Matt Freestone led the defending champs with 12 points and was aided by Sheldon Black’s nine flu-ridden points.
Eli Johnson came off the bench to hit two big treys for the Bucks in the fourth quarter and scored eight points.
Makade Maloy added another trey and five points, but his biggest contribution of the night was his defense on the 1A’s third leading scorer, JJ Ramos, who was averaging 25 points per game coming in to the contest.
Maloy took the defensive challenge and held Ramos to just eight points, including just one trey after Ramos had sunk 15 treys in his last two games.
The Buckaroos led most of the game, leading by two after one quarter, 14-12, by four at halftime, 23-19 and by five after three quarters and then held on as the Thunderbirds mounted a comeback with a full court press in the fourth.
Tyler Bird added four points and Everett Hatch and Jens Brewer both scored two.
Coach Esplin used all 12 players just 15 hours later, against 1A’s top team, when the Bucks took the court against the Rich Rebels at 1:30 p.m after playing until 10 on Friday.
The teams traded baskets in an entertaining first quarter which saw six lead changes and ended in a 14-14 tie. But the defenses tightened in the second quarter, particularly the Rebel’s as the Buckaroos only managed one basket and two points in the second quarter. Rich only managed seven points themselves to take a five point lead, 21-16, in to the locker rooms at halftime.
The scoring difficulties continued for the Buckaroos as they could only score 14 points in the entire second half. The Rebels, not scoring that well themselves, still were able to push their lead to six points by the end of the third quarter at 29-23.
Everett Hatch had the only points for the Bucks in the third quarter, with five points.
The Rebels extended the lead to eight points in the fourth before Freestone went on a mini rally, scoring the last seven points for the Buckaroos. His three point play with 1:43 left closed the eight point Rebel lead to five and when he scored again with just 1:23 left, it was 33-30 and turning interesting.
But the Rebels scored quickly and after a MHS turnover, were able to dribble out all but five seconds of the clock .
Freestone was the top Buckaroo scorer with 11 points and Everett Hatch tossed in nine points. Eli Johnson had three points as did Tyler Bird, and Nolan Freestone and Sheldon Black both had two.
Shooting woes spelled doom for the Buckaroos, as they only managed 13 baskets on 51 shots, just 26 percent and an even more dismal 3-19 from three point land, 15 percent.
The Bucks keep up a torrid pace with three games this week, at Cortez on Tuesday and at home against San Juan and Tabiona Thursday and Friday.
The Lady Buckaroos lost their opener at San Juan Tuesday night, 50-39. Atlanta Black scored 18 points for the Bucks with Mary Beh contributing eight, but only two other Buckaroos managed to find the hoop with Allie Maughan scoring seven and Michaela Wolford scoring three.
The Lady Broncos started fast, racing to a 27-14 halftime lead and cruised to the win.
On Friday, the Lady Buckaroos played the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers in Cortez. This week finds the Lady Bucks at Moab on Tuesday.