Monticello High School 2020-2021 basketball previews... part one

Until the announcement by Utah Governor Gary Herbert on Sunday, November 8 that all high school extracurricular activities would be postponed for two weeks due to COVID-19, the basketball seasons for the Monticello boys and girls were officially to commence this week under the guidance of two new head coaches. 

Marcia Shumway, who served as an assistant for several seasons under Kraig Black, was hired to lead the Lady Bucks this season and Josh Keyes, longtime assistant under Tony Esplin, will take the helm of the boy’s program for 2020-21.

Undoubtedly, the two-week setback will severely hamper the ability of both teams to prepare for the season. Coach Keyes estimates his team will be able to practice three times before their first game December 1.

Perhaps the only silver lining in the delay is every team in the state is in the same boat and every program will have to do the best it can to prepare for the season with limited practice time.

Girls basketball
Coach Marcia Shumway inherits a team that went 2-20 overall, 0-10 in Region 16, and lost their first round 2A state playoff game against Beaver 36-27 last season.

Coach Shumway appears to have a young but untested group of girls that, with a little time and patience, could round out to be solid team in the next few years.

However, the fact cannot be escaped that there is little returning varsity experience and production from last year’s team that graduated seven seniors and took with it the bulk of the team’s production. 

The Lady Bucks will likely be led by senior point guard Saydee Adams and Coach Shumway’s daughter, sophomore point guard Avery Shumway. Both guards bring needed varsity experience and production to the young team.

Other key players are senior shooting guard Kennedy Brewer, senior forward Kylie Rogers, senior center and forward Olivia Chamberlain, and junior point and shooting guard Jessi Slack.

Also available for action are sophomore guard Amy Lewis, junior forward Madi Keyes, sophomore guard Ali Barry, sophomore Taylor Thomason, sophomore guard Ciara McCarthy, sophomore center Olivia Alleman, sophomore guard Kaymee Freestone, sophomore center and forward Berlynn Black, and sophomore guard Rosy Beh.

The Lady Bucks are set to tip off the season on Tuesday, December 1 in Moab when they travel to the home gym of the Grand County Red Devils.

Last season, Monticello’s only two wins came at Grand’s expense as the Lady Bucks rolled to 54-26 and 49-24 wins at home and away against the Lady Red Devils. 

Boys basketball
New Monticello boys basketball head coach Josh Keyes will enjoy the benefit of quite a bit of returning experience in his first year. Last season the Buckaroos went 8-15 overall and 2-8 in Region 16, tying for fifth place.

The team also won their first round 2A state playoff game against Utah Military Camp Williams 58-46 only to fall to Kanab the following week 85-47 in the quarterfinals.

This year the team still needs to replace over twenty points per game from four departed seniors including point guard Dylan Bird’s 11 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.2 threes, and 3.4 steals per game. 

The Bucks will certainly rely on their top scorer from last season, senior starting forward Cedar English. He averaged 13 points per game last season.

English must also bring crucial rebounding help. Last season he led the team with 6.2 rebounds per game along with two assists and 1.6 steals a game.

Two players who will need to take the next step for Monticello to be successful this season are junior starting forward Devin Hatch and junior starting guard Boston Freestone.

Last season Hatch averaged 7.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Freestone, who may have to assume point guard duties early in the season, averaged 7.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 threes, and 1.6 steals per game.

Coach Keyes will also look to three seniors, forward Corey Bunker, forward and guard Joe Boyle, and forward and guard Grant Nebeker to take on larger roles this season.

Bunker averaged 3.8 points, three rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.2 steals a game with Boyle and Nebeker chipping in 0.5 and 0.4 points per game respectively last year in limited action. 

One player who didn’t see any significant varsity time in 2019-20 but certainly will this season is sophomore guard Easton Young.

He has the tools to play the point guard position and will likely, at some point, assume that critical role, allowing other guards on the team to play their better-suited wing and scoring guard positions.

Monticello is set to open the season on Tuesday, December 1 at home against the Grand County Red Devils. It should be a fun game; the last time Grand visited Monticello, on January 14, they limped out of the gym with a stunning, wild 59-55 loss after beating Monticello by 25 points in Moab the month before.

The Red Devil loss ended Grand’s seven-game winning streak over Monticello after going 2-12 against the Bucks from 2010-2016. 

In the next few weeks, we’ll feature some questions and answers from both coaches concerning their teams, their coaching philosophies, and what they envision in their respective upcoming seasons.

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