Bucks advance to state quarterfinals with win over Duchesne Eagles

For the first time since joining the 2A classification two years ago, the Monticello boys basketball team (9-10 / 4-6) earned a first-round bye in the state playoffs.

However, the Bucks wouldn’t have it easy if they wanted to make it to Richfield for the third round having to go on the road to face the Region 16 champion Duchesne Eagles (11-9 / 7-3) in Duchesne on Friday, February 19.

Monticello and Duchesne played twice this season in region play. The Eagles beat Monticello 52-38 in Duchesne on January 9 and edged the Bucks 41-38 in Monticello on January 22, but the Bucks had to feel pretty good about their chances to finally beat the Eagles this season because it is so hard – no matter what league you’re in – to beat a team three times in a season.

With this in mind, Monticello tipped off against Duchesne with a trip to the 2A quarterfinals on the line. Not surprisingly, the home team jumped out to a 13-10 first quarter lead. However, the Bucks nearly doubled up the Eagles in the second quarter to take a 21-19 halftime lead.

At halftime, somebody must have put cellophane over the buckets in the gym because the two teams only managed to score a combined total of 14 points in the third quarter as the region foes found themselves knotted at 27 all heading into the final quarter of play.

In that quarter, Monticello made up for their lack of scoring in the third quarter when they exploded for 22 points while holding the region champs to 17 points and cruising to the 49-44 win.

Cory Bunker had a great night in the win, leading the team in scoring with 23 points. The outside scoring came from Boston Freestone and Joe Boyle who each made two three-point shots on their way to eight points and six points respectively.

Devin Hatch also scored six points followed by Cedar English with four points and Easton Young with two points.

Monticello had a great night shooting the ball, hitting 51 percent of their shots and 33 percent of shots from beyond the three-point line.

The Bucks were very effective inside the paint, converting on 60 percent of their attempts and scoring 28 points.

Not surprisingly, the game was decided from the free throw line where Monticello made half of their attempts – 7 of 14. That was good enough for the win since Duchesne only had five attempts and made four.

Defensively, the Bucks were very disruptive coming away with ten steals and causing 15 deflections which translated into 16 Duchesne turnovers. Monticello also finished the game with four blocks and a charge taken.

With the win, Monticello was the only double-digit seed in the 2A bracket to advance. But the celebration was short-lived.

In the state quarterfinals at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield on Tuesday, February 22, the #2-ranked Layton Christian Eagles dominated the Bucks 63-37.

At our press deadline, MHS was taking on the Draper APA Eagles in the fifth-place semifinals. The winner of that one would advance to the fifth-place game on Wednesday, February 24 at 11:30 a.m.

We’ll have a complete recap of the Buckaroos’ trip to Richfield in next week’s edition of the San Juan Record.

Lady Bucks drop opening round game
Almost two weeks ago, the #19-ranked Monticello Lady Buckaroos (1-18 / 0-10) learned they would face the #14 Saint Joseph Lady Jayhawks (6-9 / 4-5) in Ogden on Wednesday, February 17 in the first round of the girls 2A state playoffs.

Record-wise, it appeared Saint Joseph was a heavy favorite, having won considerably more regular season games than Monticello. But looking deeper at the teams, who they played, and how they faired led to the reasonable conclusion that the Lady Bucks had a good chance to win this game.

And how very right we were in thinking this. In the first quarter, Monticello got behind early 9-4 as many players on the young team got their first taste of postseason play. The Lady Bucks responded nicely to win the second quarter 12-10 and only trailed 19-16 at the half.

Monticello’s improved play continued into the third quarter as they took control of the game to sneak ahead 33-31 going into the final period.

It was still looking good for the road team as Monticello held a slim lead with two minutes to play, but a late St. Joseph bucket dashed the team’s hope and ended the Lady Bucks’ season by the score of 40-39.

The loss dropped the Lady Bucks to 1-19 on the season in Coach Marcia Shumway’s first year as head coach.

It was a hard season for the girls, who were riddled with injuries and setbacks, but there are many reasons to be encouraged about the future.

First, many young players got valuable experience this season that will pay off well in the years to come.

Second, hopefully the girls will be motivated to work on their games as Monticello makes the move back to 1A basketball next season.

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