For the second year in a row, the Monticello Lady Bucks placed fourth in the 1A girls basketball tournament, the best the girls have finished since 1991 when the Lady Bucks finished second.
Playing their best basketball of the year, the girls triumphed in their first two games over Valley and Rich to gain the semi-finals against Tabiona.
And, they were just a foul call away from playing for the state championship, but the call wasn’t made in the last seconds of the semifinal, and the Bucks fell to the Tigers.
Saturday, in the third/fourth place game, the disappointed Bucks dropped the game to the Panguitch Bobcats to take fourth.
It all started well for the Lady Bucks against the Valley Buffaloes, a team they had beaten twice already earlier in the season. The game started slow, but Atlanta Black got her tournament experience going with five points and Izabel Slade added two, as the Bucks led 7-4 after one quarter.
The defense kept Valley to just four points in the second quarter, too, as Allie Maughan sparked the effort with seven steals in the first half alone.
Six Buckaroos scored to put the Bucks up by 11 at halftime, 19-8, led by Atlanta Black’s seven points, even though she played only three minutes with foul trouble.
As the defense held the Buffaloes scoreless in the third quarter, Black had five more points and Ashley Adair and Alyssa Reeve both had four, as the Bucks stretched the lead to 35-8. The scoreless streak lasted for over nine and half minutes for the Buffaloes into the fourth quarter, letting the Bucks coast to the 42-20 win.
Black led the way with 12 points, with Reeve and Adair scoring six and three players, Tymbr Black, Maughan and Slade scoring four each. Maughan, in addition to those seven steals, also had four assists in a fine all-around game.
It was a tight one in the quarterfinals against the Rich Rebels with maybe a little volleyball payback in there for good measure. Rich upset the top-ranked volleyball Buckaroos back in October, stopping the Bucks state championship run in the semifinals, and the Lady Bucks remembered.
It was a back and forth game the entire night, as the Bucks led by one after one quarter, 9-8, in a defensive struggle. The Bucks managed a five point lead at halftime, 21-16, but Rich came back to tie the game at 21.
Monticello pulled away again, leading by three after three quarters, 26-23. With the Rebels pulling ever closer, the Lady Bucks finally got some space from the foul line, where the Ladies made 13 of 17 shots at the charity stripe to keep the Rebels at bay.
Black was a critical nine of 10 in the fourth quarter and led the Bucks with 22 points, as the Buckaroos pulled away to win by eight, 45-37.
Maughan and Reeve had huge contributions offensively with seven points each, and Maughan did the defensive number on leading Rich scorer, Kierra Groll, holding her way under her average to just five points in the big win.
It was third time around for the Tabiona Tigers as well for the Buckaroos. Early in the season, the Bucks beat the Tigers by 12, 36-24, at the Valley Tournament in early December but got blasted by the Tigers in Tabiona a week later, falling by 23, 56-33.
This time around, it was much closer, with Tabby holding much of the first quarter lead, leading 8-5 when Tymbr Black scored twice and Reeve added a bucket to put the Bucks up by three, 11-8.
But as the buzzer sounded, Tabiona let it be known it was their night, too, when McKall Giles drilled a halfcourt buzzer beater to tie the score at the end of the first quarter. Tymbr Black kept the Bucks in the game with six points in the quarter.
Tabby used the momentum of that buzzer beater to stretch out a three-point lead at halftime, 19-16. Atlanta Black had six points at halftime to join Tymbr for scoring honors.
Tabiona scored the first four points of the third quarter to put the Bucks on their heels and down seven points with 2:40 left in the third.
But Reeve gave the Bucks life at 2:25 on a jumper just inside the three-point line, and the Bucks scored for the first time in nearly seven and half minutes.
Atlanta kept the Bucks scoring going with three foul shots, and when Allie Maughan made a basket with 15 second left in the third, the Bucks had tied the game at 23. And they actually led in the fourth quarter too, 29-28, with 3:55 left in the game on two more Atlanta free throws.
But that was the last time the Buckaroos could find the basket, and when the officials let the girls play in the last few minutes with no fouls called, Tabby regained the lead on a nice play with 1:15 left.
The Lady Bucks missed three close in shots in the final minute but couldn’t find the tieing shot, falling heartbreakingly 31-29.
Things started well against the Bobcats, who defeated Monticello in the first game of the year at the 1A Preview. The defenses dominated in this one as well, with neither team scoring much, though the Bucks held a 12-8 lead at halftime.
In the second half, Panguitch’s zone defense kept the Bucks away from the basket, and when the outside jumpshots quit falling, the Bobcats found their range and ran off 18 straight points, taking a 28-16 lead with four minutes left in the game. It was a lead the Bucks couldn’t overcome, and they fell 34-25.
In her last game for the Buckaroos, Atlanta Black led with six points. Junior Ashley Adair also scored six, with Alyssa Reeve and Allie Maughan both scoring four.