Buckaroos end skid against northern rivals, pick up first region win
Every year, the Monticello and Grand County boys basketball teams enjoy a home and home series before league play commences in earnest for both.
At the start of the decade, most years saw a split in the series with the home team generally prevailing. However, from 2013 to 2015, the Monticello boys took control, ripping off six consecutive wins.
Then, from 2016 to 2019, the Red Devils won seven straight and looked to make it eight on January 14 in Monticello against a Buckaroo that had lost three straight games.
As usual, both teams and fans were keyed up and ready for a good contest. Early in first period action, things got a little out of control and an unruly Grand fan was escorted from the gym after a game official had received enough haranguing.
When play resumed, Grand jumped to a 16-12 first-quarter lead. Monticello turned the tables in the second period to trail by just one at the half 29-28.
In the third period, Grand extended its lead to 45-43.
By the middle of the fourth quarter, Grand seemed to be on the way to their eighth straight win in the series when the Bucks rose up to snatch the game away from the visitors.
With the game tied at 51-51, Dylan Bird turned a steal into a transition three shot that put the Bucks up for the first time since the second quarter.
Clutch foul shooting down the stretch increased the lead to 58-55 with 20 seconds left in the game. After several errant Grand passes, Bird had another steal and was fouled with three-tenths of a second left on the clock. He made the first foul shot and the game was Monticello’s 59-55.
The team was reeling after losing three straight by a combined 11 points. This was a sorely-needed win – especially with a crucial region weekend road trip looming.
Bird led the Bucks with a career-high 22 points, including two three-point baskets. Bird added two rebounds, five assists, and three steals.
Cedar English had a great game with 11 points, one three, nine rebounds, and two steals. Cory Bunker hit for eight points, four rebounds, an assist, and a steal.
Boston Freestone, Devin Hatch, and Aaron Christiansen each had six points, with Freestone adding six rebounds and two steals, and four rebounds for Hatch.
Christiansen had six boards, an assist, and a steal. Although he didn’t score, Hyrum Johnson was key defensively and had three assists and a steal.
Monticello shot 41 percent from the floor and 18 percent of three-point shots. But the Bucks won the game at the line, hitting 16 of 20 foul shots. MHS also prevailed in paint scoring, turnovers, steals, and turnover points.
With the great win, the Bucks (5-7, 0-2) traveled to Duchesne on January 17 to play a Region 16 game with the Eagles (5-7, 1-2).
Early on, Monticello showed the same good play they exhibited against Grand, building an early 14-8 lead.
They held the advantage and would have led by nine at the break but a Duchesne player had a three-point shot just before the half with Monticello up 25-19.
The Bucks came out flat in the third and lost the quarter 13-8, dropping the lead to just one, 33-32. The teams battled evenly in the fourth quarter, but Monticello was up by four points with 56 seconds on the clock.
The game tightened as Monticello missed several chances to put the game away at the line and Duchesne hit improbable shots.
In the last 17 seconds, the Bucks couldn’t corral a defensive rebound and Duchesne hit a three-point shot to tie the game at 49-49. When MHS couldn’t convert a buzzer beater, it headed to overtime.
The Eagles took control in overtime, outscoring Monticello 8-5 to hand the Bucks their second overtime road loss in a week, 57-54.
Bird tossed in 19 points with two three-point baskets. He also added two rebounds, an assist, and five steals.
English had ten points, six rebounds, two assists, and a steal. Sophomores Hatch and Freestone each contributed eight points. Hatch added five rebounds, two assists, and a steal.
Freestone hit a three-point basket and had four rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Johnson scored six on two three-pointers and added three assists.
Christiansen scored a bucket and three rebounds. Bunker closed out the Buck scoring with one point, two rebounds and two assists.
Monticello turned the ball over 21 times and lost the inside-scoring battle by 12 points.
The Bucks failed to do the little things that produce wins and luck was not on their side. However, the team left the gym with a sense of urgency for the next night against Altamont Longhorns (7-6, 2-1) in an important game.
The urgency showed, as the Bucks got on top of the Longhorns early and never relented. MHS led 20-18 at the half and 34-28 at the end of the third period.
The final quarter was a dogfight, but Monticello kept composure.
A Hatch three-point shot put the Bucks up by four with two minutes to play and the rout was on. The Bucks got their first Region 16 win 47-37. It is the largest win of the season by any region team.
The Bucks enjoyed balanced scoring, led by 17 from English. He also had eight rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block.
Bird had 13 points, three treys, two rebounds, and three steals. Hatch had nine points three rebounds, five assists, and five steals.
Freestone scored six and Christiansen added two. Johnson contributed an assist and a steal.
With the win, Monticello is tied with North Summit at 1-3. North Sevier, Duchesne, and Altamont own 2-2 records. Gunnison leads with a 4-0 record.
This week, Monticello will travel to Gunnison on Wednesday. Hear the game live on 103.9 KAAJ-LP at 6:45 p.m.
The road weary Bucks (6-8, 1-3) host North Summit (6-9, 1-3) Friday with a shot to get out of the Region cellar.
The Lady Bucks began a long week on the road against the second-ranked 1A Whitehorse Lady Raiders (8-2) in Montezuma Creek on January 14.
Monticello knew they had to play well to hang with the talented Whitehorse team. They started strong, trailing 19-12 in the first quarter. But MHS fell behind 32-19 at the half.
Monticello scored 15 in the third quarter, but a scrappy Whitehorse team extended its lead to 52-34. The Lady Raiders dominated the end to take a 70-38 win.
Monticello shot just 28 percent in the game, 25 percent from three-point range, and 31 percent from the foul line.
Megan Black had a great game, scoring a career-high 20 points with two threes. She had 11 boards, two assists, steal, and a block.
Sisters Rianna and Avery Shumway scored four each with Rianna adding four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Olivia Chamberlain, Maddy Freestone, Kylie Rogers, and Adri Lewis scored two each.
Freestone had two rebounds, four assists and five steals. Rogers made two assists. Chamberlain added three rebounds and a block. Orissa Beh scored one. Brooklyn Holt had one point, seven rebounds and three steals.
The 46 Monticello turnovers killed the Lady Bucks as Whitehorse turned those miscues into 45 points. On the bright side, the Lady Bucks boarded well, out-rebounding the Lady Raiders 42-37.
Following the non-region loss, the Lady Bucks turned their focus to Region 16, traveling to the Duchesne Lady Eagles (6-6, 2-0) on Friday, and the Altamont Lady Longhorns on Saturday.
The Lady Bucks came out slow against Duchesne as the Lady Eagles came out with a relentless press and taking a commanding 26-2 lead into the half.
Monticello came out active but just couldn’t get it going offensively. The Lady Eagle lead soared to 40-2 after three periods. Monticello was outscored 6-3 by Duchesne in the fourth to drop the game 46-5.
Holt and Avery Shumway scored three and two, respectively.
The Lady Bucks came out determined the next night against the Altamont Lady Longhorns (6-6, 1-1) to get a needed region win.
The Lady Bucks had put the rough outing the night before behind them and came out scrappy against a solid Altamont team, trailing 5-4 after the first period and 21-16 at the half.
Monticello continued to play well, but the Lady Longhorns were a little better, turning a 32-23 third quarter lead into a 46-34 win.
Monticello enjoyed balanced scoring with Freestone hitting ten, including two three-pointers. Black had 10 points. Avery Shumway scored seven with a three and Holt scored six. Rianna Shumway made a foul.
Monticello drops to 2-13 overall and 0-4 in Region 16 play. They play Gunnison on Tuesday. On Thursday, they host the North Summit Lady Braves (14-1, 4-0). If possible, please come out and support the ladies. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.
The Monticello Vaqueras placed third in the Region 16 Drill competition on January 17 at North Summit High School. The team will compete at the 2A Utah State Drill Competition on January 30 and 31 at Utah Valley University.
The public is invited to watch a Drill Review on Monday, January 27 at 7 p.m. at Monticello High School. The review is $2 per person. Admission for students with an activity card is free. It’s a great way to see what the girls have been working on and cheer them on to state!