by Scott Boyle
Round two goes to the San Juan Bronco boys basketball team after a hard-fought 49-40 victory over the Monticello Buckaroos on January 4 in Blanding.
San Juan rode the wave of the home court to the rebound win after Monticello took the opener in December in Monticello.
The game boiled down to fundamentals, with the Broncos playing much more aggressively offensively, earning 20 shots at the foul line (making 12) while the Bucks managed 10 foul shots (making 7).
The Bucks also turned the ball over 16 times, with 10 for the Broncos. In a closely contested game, the final margin was the biggest lead of the game for either team.
Barkley Christensen scored on a backdoor cut just seconds into the game, setting the tone for the Bronco offense. Collin Hatch countered with a three, giving the Bucks their only lead through the third quarter.
It was punch, counter punch, as the Broncos maintaining a two to six point lead until the Bucks tied the game, 34-34, to close the third quarter.
Monticello actually took the lead early in the fourth when Jake Duncan scored to give the Bucks a 36-34 advantage. The lead was short-lived however, when Christensen canned a three to give the lead back to the Broncos.
Monticello managed only four points the rest of the game and the Broncos slowly pulled away. After two Logan Meyer steals (he had five on the night) and a Christensen old-fashioned three point play, the Broncos had a 44-40 lead with 2:20 to play and milked the clock to the end.
Christensen was the game high scorer with 17, including six of seven from the free throw line. Meyer contributed 14 points and six rebounds to go along with his five steals.
Austin Maloy led the Bucks in scoring with 11 points and eight rebounds. Duncan tossed in 10 points.
Region play begins this week for the Bronco boys and girls. The Buckaroo boys and girls have one region win under their belts with Saturday wins at Navajo Mountain.
The Bronco girls enter region with a 5-4 record and begin play against the top-ranked 2A team, Richfield, in Richfield.
Richfield is San Juan’s toughest region opponent. They boast 2A’s leading scorer in Megan Bean (also the 2A volleyball MVP) as well as the leader in 2A assists and steals, point guard Sloane Roundy. The Wildcats are 11-2 thus far and boast a win over 5A Skyline and six wins over 3A schools.
The Lady Broncos counter with three players averaging in double figures, Sam Giddings (13.4 ppg), Brooke Lyman (12.7), and Tatianna SueSue (12.1).
Giddings leads 2A in rebounding with 9.3 per game. SueSue (7.9) is fourth and Lyman (5.7) seventh in rebounding, giving the Lady Broncos a strong inside game. Lyman is fifth in assists (1.9) and sixth in steals (1.7).
San Juan boys open play in region at Richfield on Friday and then play at South Sevier on Saturday.
South Sevier is ranked second in 2A behind Wasatch Academy and are on a basketball run for the ages, having lost only three games the last three years (a loss to SJ their only loss in 2011) while winning 72 times.
In the past seven years, the Rams have three state titles, one second and three thirds. Even though the Rams have the state’s leading scorer in Race Parsons (26.1 ppg), they have lost three times already, but appear ready to challenge again in 2A.
San Juan counters with Christensen and Meyer. The senior guards tie for third in 2A scoring. Christensen is eighth in three pointers, while Meyer is a leader in rebounding (seventh), assists (sixth) and steals (fourth).
Monticello, after their region-opening win at Navajo Mountain, is poised to lead Region 19.
The 8-2 Pinnacle Canyon Academy Panthers are led by the all-around play of 5-11 Jake Hardy, who is sixth in 1A in scoring, 1st in steals, 2nd in assists, and 9th in rebounding.
They also boast four players averaging double figures. Dalton Rudman leads 1A in three point shooting, averaging 4.2 per game. They average 75 points per game as a team, tops in entire state.
The 6-2 Buckaroos are led thus far by the trio of Jake Duncan, Gunnar Hollingsworth, and Austin Maloy, all of whom are averaging 12 points a game. The Bucks, ranked #4 in 1A, play nine or ten guys every game and have a balanced attack.
Even though the 4-5 Lady Bucks have had a hard time finding the bucket this year, averaging only 29 points per game, they get balanced scoring and have been tough defensively.
They’ve lost three games by a total of 11 points, so they are always in games because of their defense.
Sophomore Zoe Chadwick leads the Bucks in scoring at 7.8 ppg. Senior Brittany Keith and sophomore Shania DeAnda average five points a game.
Sophomore Mary Beh averages 3.4 ppg and Aapree Sharon, 3.6. Senior Kaitlyn Clark has the only trey for the Lady Bucks this season.
Region 19 is headlined by the highest scoring girls team in the state (66 ppg), the 6-3 Monument Valley Cougars and their number one scorer in 1A, Heidi Nelson (21.9 ppg). Nelson also leads 1A in treys, averaging 2.6 per game.
Both Buckaroo teams play at Monument Valley on January 11.