by Walter & Becky Bird
On December 5, the Monticello Lady Buckaroo basketball team headed north to face the Grand County Red Devils. Coming into the game, the Bucks sported a record of 1-3 with the Red Devils sitting at 2-0.
The Bucks had a nice start and jumped out early to take a 10-7 lead after one quarter.
“After that, we had a bit of a rough game with some mistakes and fouls,” assessed Coach Kraig Black.
The second quarter saw the teams score eleven apiece, and the Bucks maintained their three point cushion at 21-18 going into the half.
Grand took the third quarter, outscoring the Bucks 15-14, but still trailed 35-33 going into the final period. The fourth quarter was also tight, as the teams again matched each other scoring twelve apiece. But Grand couldn’t overcome the first quarter deficit and dropped the game 47-45.
The Lady Bucks exhibited very balanced scoring with Tymbr Black and Tristen Esplin combining for 21 points in the win. Tymbr Black had the lone trey of the game, pacing her eleven point performance.
Along with Esplin’s ten points, Alyssa Reeve added seven. Ashley Adair and Journey Baird contributed six points each. Megan Black added a bucket and free-throw, and Brooklyn Holt and Rianna Shumway each scored two points.
On defense, the Lady Bucks again did not give up a three-point field goal and gave up the second lowest opponent scoring game of the season.
According to Coach Black, “Every time we needed a shot, someone stepped up and knocked one down. Tymbr had a big three and seven points in the quarter. Alyssa, Tymbr, Megan and Tristen combined to make seven out of ten on free-throws with a rowdy student section right behind our basket.
“Our girls kept fighting, and due to that, we came out on top. Tight games like this are valuable experiences. We’ll take it and learn from it.”
On Saturday, December 16, the Ladies will host the Bayfield Wolverines. The C game will tip at 1 p.m., the JV game at 2:30 p.m. with the Varsity game to follow at 4 p.m.
Also on December 5, the Monticello boys basketball team got the season rolling with their first game when they hosted the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers. The Panthers came in with a 2-1 record against Colorado competition and having bested Monticello last year in Cortez.
Monticello got off to a quick start, jumping out to a ten point lead at 16-6. However, due to some foul trouble and injury scares, the Panthers used a late second quarter flurry to outscore the Bucks 16-12. Monticello still led 28-22 going into halftime.
Cortez came out from half – hot. One Panther non-starter, who failed to score the entire first half, scored 16 of Cortez’s 26 points in the their quarter, as they outscored the Bucks by nine to take a one-point lead at 48-47 into the final period.
In the fourth quarter, the Bucks would turn the table. As the quarter progressed, Monticello chipped into the Panther’s lead, but with four minutes to go, it still looked bleak, as the Bucks missed several key throws.
However, in a wild flurry of action in the last two-minutes – including several key steals by Clay Goodwine, a big three and a pair of free-throws by Ryan Bird, a big bucket by Lucas Hatch and four straight made free-throws by Jake Freestone – Monticello sealed the 69-63 win over the Panthers.
The Bucks, although not deep, showed tremendous balance in scoring with its top three scorers combing for 54 of their 69 points. Lucas Hatch, battling ankle issues, led the way with 19 points, making five of his seven free throws.
Ryan Bird followed with 18, knocking down four treys in six attempts. Jake Freestone added 17 with a late trey and four straight free throws to close out the win. Weston Nebeker also had double digit points, pouring in ten. Adam Bunker added five.
Coach Tony Esplin “thought we played pretty good for the first game of the season. We needed a good competitive game to show us what we need to work on. Now we have a more clear picture of what we need to do to improve. I thought the kids showed great resilience in the back and forth game.”
The boys team then traveled to Richfield December 8 and 9 for the Central Utah Preview to see how they would measure up against several 1A teams.
In the first game, Monticello (1-0) played the Deseret News No. 2 ranked Bryce Valley Mustangs (2-0).
Despite leading by a point after the first quarter, in the second quarter the defense faltered and the shots just did not fall as the Bucks dropped the game by the score of 67-48.
Lucas Hatch was the top scorer with 13. Weston Nebeker put in twelve. Jake Freestone and Ryan Bird combined for nine and six points respectively. Lucas Hatch had two three-point baskets, and Clay Goodwine, Jake Freestone and Ryan Bird all had one.
The next afternoon, Monticello (1-1) tipped off against the Tintic Miners (2-2). Unlike the previous night, Monticello came out cold and dug itself a big hole, trailing by as many as 15 points and by ten at the half, 35-25.
Fortunately, the second half was a different story. Monticello came out and chipped away at the lead, winning the third quarter by two but still trailed 35-43.
Monticello won the fourth quarter by five and even had several chances to take the lead in the final minutes, but turnovers and defensive lapses killed those chances. The Bucks ended up losing 47-50.
Ryan Bird and Jake Freestone lead the way with 13 points apiece, with Bird dropping in three treys and Freestone one on the night.
Weston Nebeker and Lucas Hatch each scored seven points and each had a three-pointer. Rounding out the scoring, Adam Bunker had four points and Clay Goodwine scored three on a triple.
The Bucks were back in action on Tuesday, December 12, when they hosted the Grand Red Devils.