Buckaroos top Raiders in thriller

by David Boyle
News Director
The Monticello High School boys basketball teams hosted Whitehorse in Region 23 play on January 13 resulting in a one-point thriller.
It also saw a record-setting performance from Monticello’s Tommy Sheeran. Sheeran finished the game with 29 rebounds which is third-most in a boys game in Utah history.
Monticello jumped out to a big 21-8 lead after one quarter and extended it to 33-19 at halftime. The Raiders made a little dent in the Bucks’ lead after three quarters making the score 49-37.
The Raiders’ shots started falling in the fourth quarter with Dominic Dance and Kai Yazzie each hitting three-pointers and D’Wayne Nakai hitting two threes in the first six minutes.
Whitehorse Assistant coach Orlando Thompson said the Raiders had been waiting for Dance to have a breakout game, he did with 11 points in the contest including three made threes
“We just want him to build that confidence going on throughout the season. I’m proud of that kid.” Coach Thompson mentioned that Yazzie was also a great team player providing team leadership. “When we put him in he’s ready to go. He never lost confidence.”
Monticello led 54-51 With 1:30 remaining in the game. A missed Whitehorse shot led to an offensive rebound for Camron Nakai who then passed the ball out to a three-point shot for D’Wayne Nakai to tie the game. Monticello coach Josh Keyes said they were pleased with the defensive effort by his team, especially Landon Ewart, to contain Nakai but he knew they couldn’t completely stop the Raider senior from finding the bottom of the net. 
“That’s how good he is, there’s time when you’ve got players, you know Jordon type players that you’re not going to hold down forever. We held him to two points on two free throws in the first half that’s a phenomenal job by our kids. He still had 17 on the night.”
When asked about his confidence in shooting difficult shots in tense situations D’Wayne Nakai gave a Jordan-esque shrug of an answer “I don’t know honestly, it just comes out.”
After a series of turnovers Monticello’s Ewart threw the ball in to Donovan Atwood on the low block. Atwood took one dribble and spun to his right to put up a fadeaway shot from 8-feet out. The shot gave Monticello a 56-54 lead with 55 seconds remaining. Atwood finished the game with a team-high 18-points, after the game he shared how his post game has become so efficient “It’s what I’ve practiced for four years now, so it’s pretty comfortable.” 
 A missed shot by the Raiders led to an opportunity for the Buckaroos at the free-throw line, but two missed shots and some missed offensive putbacks gave the Raiders the ball with 40 seconds remaining. On the next possession, Lyric Phillips found some space to drain a three-point shot to give the Raiders their first lead of the game 57-56 with 30 seconds remaining. Phillips finished the game with a team-high 18-points. Coach Thompson said Phillips is a team leader and an unselfish player. “He really brings that leadership with this young core it’s amazing. He‘s a thrill to coach.”
On the next trip down the court Monticello’s Easton Young was fouled. Young went to the line and hit both free throws to put Monticello up 58-57. Coach Keyes praised the senior guard after the game. “He hit those foul shots smooth as can be I told them last night in practice this game might come down to foul shots and it sure did tonight.”
 With 12 seconds remaining, the Raiders called timeout and drew up a play to get a look off, both shots missed though as time expired giving Monticello the victory.
After the game, players from both teams were positive about their trajectories. Atwood said Monticello is excited. “Practices have been great, we’re meshing way better as a team we’re excited to run the ball and play better as a team.” Whitehorse senior D’Wayne Nakai said the team feels like brothers and in the locker room they talked about how to move forward “We talked about building on that, through practice, (...)we’ll be ready for the next team.”
Monticello was led in scoring by Atwood who finished with (18) points, while Sheeran had 14, Young (12) Ewart (7) JD McDonald (5) and Kooper Nielson (2).
The Raiders were led by 18 points for Phillips and 17 for D’Wayne Nakai. Also scoring were Dance (11), Yazzie (6), and Kalin Tohonnie (5).
Whitehorse hosts Pinnacle January 20 and Escalante January 21. 
Monticello played one other game last week, defeating Green River on the road. Monticello beat the Pirates 53-41. The Bucks were led in scoring in the game by Sheeran who had 21 points. Young scored (12) points, Atwood (9), Ewart (7), McDonald (2) and Curtis Bunker (2).

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