Winter seasons begin for Buckaroos

by Scott Boyle
Last week, we previewed the MHS boys basketball team.  This week, Sportshorts turns to the Lady Buckaroos and head coach Ben Wolford.  
Wolford begins his second year at the helm of the Monticello girls basketball team. 
Last season, Wolford’s team placed eighth at the 1A state tournament, also winning the region championship at 9-1, and finishing the season with a 19-7 record. 
Wolford responded to a few Sportshorts questions:
1. Who is on the team this year?
Mary Beh, who is the only senior; juniors Kari Schmidt and Amy Rogers; three sophomores, Atlanta Black, Michaela Wolford and Allie Maughan; and eight freshmen, Ashley Adair, Alyssa Reeves, Erica Hill, Shania Begay, Dakota Johnson, Camaysa Crittenden, Kyeara Price, and Aunika Hunter.
2. You only had one senior last year, Aapree Sheeran.  How do you replace her inside play? Did you lose any other players? 
We lost Zoe Chadwick (moved to Alaska), and six others who quit. 
Kari Schmidt has increased her inside play.  She will do a great job replacing Aapree and improving our inside play. 
We are working with the younger girls on the inside to help in this endeavor.
3. Do you consider this to be an experienced team or still young, and how do you deal with either?
With only five players returning, we do have some experience, but I would not consider this an experienced team.  The team is still young and everyone has a lot to learn still. 
A lot of hard work has been put into place to allow the girls to get better and increase their basic skills.  From each practice, there is a lot of improvement, but the real test will be when games start.
4. Thoughts about improving on an eighth place finish last year?
We have a goal to place higher. It is going to be necessary to give the starters some help off the bench.  We are working to develop the sixth, seventh and eighth man in practice. The harder schedule this year should help us out.
5. You mentioned a tougher schedule this year.  Who have you added and why?
We added some more difficult teams to our schedule.  We are playing in a three-day tournament in Farmington, NM against some really tough teams. 
We added Cortez this year, as well as other teams from other regions.
We want to have some very competitive games where we can learn and up our game, so we are prepared for state play.
6.  How does the region look this year?
The region looks tough. We will have to take each team one game at a time. 
The other schools have been working hard, and they will be doing everything they can to beat us. 
We need to work together as a team and do our best.  Execution of our plays is going to be integral.
The new season began for the Lady Bucks on Tuesday, December 9 with a matchup with the San Juan Broncos in Blanding.
Boys Basketball
The second ranked Buckaroo boys upped their record to 2-0 Thursday night with a 49-43 win over the Grand County Red Devils in their home opener. 
The Bucks were led by Sheldon Black, who scored 26 points to help upend the Red Devils. 
The game was close throughout and physical, as the Bucks played a tight man-to-man defense and the Red Devils played a zone, keeping the ball out of the post and Matt Freestone’s hands. 
Freestone ended the night with just five points, but contributed five rebounds, four steals and two blocks. 
With the score tied at 30 and just seconds left in the third quarter, Black took control.  He started with two technical free throws before scoring seven more points in a row to give the Buckaroos a nine-point lead with five minutes left in the game, 39-30. 
From there, the Bucks went to the free throw line to get the win. 
On the night, Black had 26 points on 7-12 shooting, including three treys and 9-9 at the charity strip.  He has yet to miss a free throw this year. 
Everett Hatch had a nice game with eight points and six rebounds.  Tyler Bird had five points and two steals. 
On Friday and Saturday, the boys travel to the 1A Preview in Richfield with matchups against number three ranked Piute at 8:30 p.m. Friday night and top ranked Rich at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

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