by Walter & Becky Bird
The Monticello Buckaroo basketball team (10-7, 8-0) hosted the Green River Pirates (5-13, 3-6) for Senior Night on February 13, as well as a chance to clinch the Region 19 title.
Before the tip-off, three Buckaroos seniors – Clay Goodwine, Jake Freestone, and Ryan Bird – were honored and announced for the final time in their home gym.
As can be typical, senior nights are usually full of emotion, as the seniors desire to have a memorable final home game.
The Bucks came out aggressive, but a little sloppy against a Green River team it had beaten by 36 points last month in Green River. The scrappy Pirates sent the message early that they were not going to roll-over for the Bucks this time and only trailed 16-13 after the first period.
The second period saw the young Pirates take the quarter 13-10 and the two teams went into halftime deadlocked at 26-26.
In the third period, the Bucks just could not shake a Green River team that actually surged to an eight-point lead in the quarter and looked poised for an upset. However, the Bucks rallied and held a 47-45 lead going into the final period.
Finally, in the fourth quarter the Bucks made some defensive stops and outside shots to roll to a 67-57 win.
With the win, Monticello clinched the Region 19 title and a top seeding going into the state tournament in a couple of weeks.
Fittingly, on Senior Night, the seniors lead the way in the Bucks win.
Ryan Bird had a career high 34 points, dropping in seven made threes on eleven attempts. He also added five rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Jake Freestone scored 16 points with two made threes and two rebounds in his final home game as a Buckaroo.
Clay Goodwine was scoreless, but contributed with three rebounds and a steal.
Lucas Hatch terrorized the Pirates all night, scoring 11 points while adding an impressive seven steals, seven assists, and four rebounds.
Weston Nebeker scored four points and distributed the ball well netting six assists to go with his four rebounds and a steal.
Adam Bunker closed out the scoring with a bucket. He also had three rebounds and two assists.
Two nights later, the Bucks headed south to Monument Valley for the Cougars’ (4-6, 3-6) Senior Night. As usual, the gym was packed and the fans were rowdy and hoping for an upset.
With a win, the Cougars would be in the state tournament and would avoid a play-in game to get to Richfield.
However, it wasn’t to be Monument Valley’s night as they fell behind early and trailed 22-13 after the first period. The Cougars stiffened and only lost the second period by a bucket, but still trailed 40-29 at the half.
A see-saw third period saw Monticello maintain its eleven point lead going into the fourth quarter up 59-48. In the final quarter, the shots really started to fall for the Bucks and they cruised to a 92-63 win and an undefeated final region record.
It was a monster night for Freestone, who tied Bird for the high point game of the season when he tossed in 34 points.
To go along with all those points, Freestone hauled down an eye-popping 19 rebounds and added three assists and a steal.
Lucas Hatch had perhaps his best game of the season when he missed a triple double by only two assists. He scored 21 points, including three triples on five atatmepts, pulled down ten boards and made eight assists. He also added a steal.
Ryan Bird scored 20 points, hitting four treys, and added three steals and two assists.
Weston Nebeker contributed 11 points, eight rebounds, a steal, and a solid seven assists from his forward spot.
Adam Bunker made a bucket to go with five rebounds.
In the waning moments of the game, Junior Parker Walker made two free-throws and Sophomore Dylan Bird made a runner for two points.
The Bucks concluded their regular season out of state in Colorado when they faced the Ignacio Bobcats (13-4) in Ignacio on February 20.
The Green River Pirates (6-12, 4-5) visited Monticello (11-7, 5-3) for Senior Night on February 15.
Before the game, seniors Ashley Adair, Shania Begay, Ericka Hill, and Alyssa Reeve and their parents were honored for their hard work and dedication to the Lady Buck’s program.
Coming off an emotional home win over region leader Wayne the week before, it was an important week for the Lady Bucks, who could find themselves either tied for second or third in the region depending on how the week went.
Against Green River the Ladys fell behind early and trailed 9-8 lead after the first period. In the second period, the Pirates again took the quarter by a point and to make it a 20-18 Pirate advantage at the half.
In the third quarter, things didn’t look good as the Lady Bucks slipped further behind to trail 32-24 going into the final period. But, that’s when Monticello rallied to take the quarter 15-7 and force overtime with the score knotted at 39-39.
With a simple 6-3 overtime advantage, the Lady Bucks saved Senior Night and secured a 45-42 win to improve to 6-3 in region and sole possession of third place, with a chance the next night to tie Monument Valley for second position.
Tymbr Black lead the way to the win with 14 points, including one big triple near the end of the game.
Tristen Esplin poured in eight points with Journey Baird also having a good night with seven points.
Seniors Alyssa Reeve and Ashley Adair contributed six and five points, respectfully. Megan Black netted three points and Senior Ericka Hill ended her last home game with two points.
The next night, the Lady Bucks found themselves in Monument Valley (20-4, 7-2) trying to avenge a 47-38 home loss last month to the Cougars and force a tie for second in the region race.
After the tip, the Lady Bucks looked poised and cruised to a 16-11 first quarter lead. The second quarter would belong to the Cougars as they took control of the game to take the 32-28 halftime lead.
Monument Valley would take the third quarter by a point and the fourth quarter by three points to secure the 62-54 win and sole possession of second in Region 19.
The loss ended Monticello’s regular season with a 12-8 and 6-4 region record for sole possession of third place in Region 19.
Tymbr Black had a monster game for the Lady Bucks pouring in 25 points. She also stacked the stat line with seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks.
Journey Baird scored six points and contributed eight rebounds and a steal.
Senior Ashley Adair scored seven points, with a made three, added three assists, six steals and two blocks.
Tristen Esplin also added five points, as well as three rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
Seniors Alyssa Reeve and Ericka Hill both tossed in four points, with Reeve adding five rebounds, a steal and two blocks, and Hill grabbing five boards, two assists and a steal.
Megan Black and Brooklyn Holt ended the scoring with two and one point, respectfully. Black also had five rebounds with Holt grabbing two boards, a block and an assist.
Both the boys and girls will compete at the 1A Basketball Tournament in Richfield from February 28 to March 3.