by Scott Boyle
The round ball is bouncing in Blanding and Monticello as the San Juan boys and Monticello girls opened their 2012-13 basketball seasons.
Seven seniors look poised to guide the Broncos of Coach Jason Torgerson to big heights this year. Returning double figures scorers, Barkley Christensen and Logan Meyer, have led the Broncos in the early going, forging a 2-1 record.
In the opener on the road at Shiprock, NM, Meyer led the way with 18 points. Christensen added 16 points as the Broncos lost at the buzzer 54-52.
Next the Broncos matched up with Pedro Vista, NM and came up with a hardfought 83-62 win on the road. The Broncos led by just one at halftime but blitzed PV with 47 second-half points.
Both Meyer and Christensen poured in 25 points apiece to pace the win. Meyer added 11 rebounds and seven assists to his all-around effort, while Christensen canned five treys.
Ammon Mitchell also scored in double figures with 12 points.
The hectic early season schedule, three games in five nights, seemed to catch up with the Broncos on Saturday night in their homeopener against Gunnison Valley.
Struggling to score (the Broncos did not hit a three the entire night), the Broncos trailed a physical Bulldog team 31-26 at halftime, although Bobby Bowring’s steal and score at the buzzer made it closer than it seemed.
The Broncos were clearly tired, with many shots hitting the front of the rim, but found their legs and their free throw shooting hops in the second half.
When a frustrated GV coach picked up a technical with five minutes left in the third quarter, the Broncos had drawn even at 34-34 after an eight-point spurt from Christensen.
The game seesawed back and forth from there with neither team gaining more than a three-point advantage. The Bulldogs squeaked out a two-point lead at 57-55 with just 26 seconds left and looked to take the road win home until Christensen craftily drew a foul on a three point attempt and then willed three tired free throws into the basket, giving the Broncos the lead they needed.
When Meyer added two more free throws with nine seconds left, the Broncos had their win.
Meyer pulled down 11 rebounds, had five steals and scored 18 points on 10 of 15 freethrows, all in the second half, while Christensen was eight for eight from the charity stripe while scoring 14 points.
As a team, the Broncos made 28 of 36 freethrows for 78 percent. They’ve made 45 of 59 freebies in their last two games.
Next up for the Broncos are two home games, Tuesday against Whitehorse, and Thursday against Aztec, NM before the annual trip to the Farmington, NM tournament next week.
Put 21 December on your calendar for the annual Christmas season game against Monticello in Monticello.
Coach Lee Chadwick’s Lady Buckaroos started off with four games in a week, too. The young and inexperienced Bucks have had trouble finding the basket early on, but are improving with each game.
In the opener at Grand, the Bucks pulled out a tight 20-15 low scoring win over the Red Devils. Brittany Keith led the way with eight points, but the Buckaroos only managed eight for 28 at the foul line.
The game was in doubt with Monticello leading 17-15, when Zoe Chadwick hit a turnaround jumper in the lane with under a minute to go, giving the Lady Bucks the cushion they needed to get the win.
On Friday, the Lady Bucks traveled to Milford for the Oak Tree Inn Invitational. The Lady Bucks again scored 20 points, but couldn’t stop the Lady Tigers, who poured in 49 points of their own, including 30 in the second half.
Chadwick led the way with half of the Buckaroos 20. Brittany Keith was injured in the last quarter, and missed the next two games. She got a tooth knocked loose.
Saturday saw two games on the docket against Duchesne and Tintic. The Lady Bucks lost to Duchesne 31 – 15. Chadwick is high scorer with eight.
The Lady Bucks beat Tintic 31-30 on a last second shot by Kaitlyn Clark. Clark and Mary Beh both had eight.
This week finds the Lady Bucks in action right here in Monticello against Dove Creek on Tuesday and a rematch with Grand on Thursday.
The Buckaroo boys begin play this week at Dolores on Tuesday and at the 1A Preseason Preview in Richfield on the weekend.
San Juan Lady Broncos begin play this week as well with three road games, at Whitehorse, Millard and Green River.
All-state football teams were announced this past week. Eight Broncos for Coach Monty Lee’s second place Broncos and six of Coach Lee Chadwicks Buckaroos were honored.
Broncos Barkley Christensen, Logan Meyer, Bobby Bowring, and Bogh Bayles and Buckaroos PJ Leiataua and Gunnar Hollingsworth, all seniors, aere first team choices.
Ammon Mitchell, Brett Laws of San Juan and Austin Maloy, Austin Wilcox, Jake Duncan, and Jake Giles of Monticello are second team choices.
Justin Nielson and Mason Shumway are honorable mention. Congrats!