Bucks, Broncos fight to the end
by Scott Boyle
San Juan Lady Broncos put the old adage, “Never Give Up” to good use on December 11 in Monticello, overcoming a 26-19 fourth quarter lead to persevere over the Monticello Lady Bucks in the first game of the annual double header basketball odyssey between the two county schools.
Even with the Bucks holding a two point lead and holding the ball with less than 30 seconds to go, the Broncos continued playing hard and came away with the low scoring 32-30 victory.
Nicole Black and Kelsi Meyer paced the Bronco scoring, both tossing in nine points for the 1-1 Broncos. Seven Broncos scored for second year coach Justin Moon’s team.
For the Lady Bucks, who led for most of the game, the last-second loss was a disappointment, but a learning experience nonetheless. Linda Barton provided most of the scoring for Monticello, pouring in 17 points.
Six other Bucks scored for first year coach Elisa Rogers, though none had more than three points. Coach Rogers spoke recently about the 2008-09 Lady Buckaroo team. “I am excited to be coaching the Monticello High School girl’s basketball team this year,” says Rogers, “and I expect great things from my players. We have five seniors on the team who I look to for team leadership and for consistency.
“We have a bit of work to do to fill the hole left by Ashley Dowell, but I am seeing Linda Barton, Joelyn Palmer, and Kendyl Boyd stepping up to take that on.
“I look to Bettina Benally to direct play as the point guard and Nichole Freestone to continue her tenacious defense and quick offense. I expect Janessa Bowring and Kara Rogers to be able to step in and be forces both defensively and offensively.
“Okaydya Schmidt, Jennifer Toomey, Kelli Robinson, and Loren Randall can contribute from the bench. The girls have been working hard at practice and we see much improvement. We have had a bit of a slow start this season, but we are improving quickly and I am confident that we will become a strong force.”
The Monticello boys are off to a remarkable start, and after besting the third ranked Wayne Badgers at the 1A preview, are feeling quite optimistic about the season with a 4-1 record.
With veteran starter Connor Frost still nursing a broken hand suffered in football, the Bucks, under second year head coach, Rhett Maughan, are getting great senior leadership from Joseph Weatherford and Daniel Torres.
Excellent play from sophomores Devon Wright, Cory Young, Kendall Maughan, and Dallin Duncan have all played key roles in the Buckaroo’s early success.
The Bucks started the week out in style, beating the Grand County Red Devils in Monticello on Tuesday. After spotting Grand 19 points in the first quarter, the Buck’s defense kicked in, allowing only 20 points by the Red Devils the rest of the way.
The Buck offense was balanced and consistent, with Torres, Young, and Weatherford pitching in 18, 12 and 11 points respectively. Duncan also tossed in eight points in the stimulating Buckaroo win. Former Buckaroo, Shane Yuhas, pumped in 10 points for the Red Devils.
Not to let a good win go to waste, the Bucks came right back on Friday night, leading nearly the entire way to beat the highly rated Badgers from Wayne. However, after trailing most of the night to the Bucks, the Badgers showed their experience in the fourth quarter, overcoming a four point Buck lead to take a 58-52 lead with under four minutes left, and seemed poised to finish the Bucks.
But the young Buckaroos, under that solid senior leadership, stayed in the game, applied some harassing defense, and slowly cut the lead, before Weatherford gave the Bucks the lead for good on a three point play with seven seconds left.
On the play, the Bucks in-bounded in the backcourt, raced the ball up the court without a dribble, and with every Buckaroo touching the ball, got the ball to Weatherford under the basket for the deciding bucket and foul shot.
Four Buckaroos scored in double figures to lead the Bucks to the energizing 63-60 win. Weatherford scored 21, Torres 14, Duncan 12, and Wright 10.
On Saturday night, the Bucks played the defending 1A champs and pre-season favorite to repeat, the Escalante Moquis, without the services of Weatherford, who was attending a wedding. Despite 19 points from Daniel Torres, the Bucks fell hard to the Moquis, 67-34, suffering their first loss of the season.
The Bronco boys from San Juan ran their winning streak to four with victories over Cortez, CO and Monument Valley last week. Playing without the still-injured Nate Einerson, the Broncos are getting balanced scoring. Cameron Shumway scored 16 against Cortez, while Lewis Sharpe added 12 and Keaton Perkins, 11, leading the Broncos to the 60-50 victory. A host of Broncos scored in the 87-63 victory over Monument Valley.