A look back at 2020: The Monument Valley and Whitehorse high school year in sports

In this issue of the Record we’re looking back at the 2020 high school sports year for all the teams in San Juan County. In this story we feature Monument Valley and Whitehorse high schools.

Battle of the Drum
One of the biggest highlights of the year for Monument Valley and Whitehorse was the annual Battle of the Drum rivalry matchups between the schools’ four basketball teams.

Fans got their money’s worth in a highly-anticipated doubleheader January 17 in the Monument Valley gymnasium.

On that night the boys and girls varsity games were decided by just three points combined. The Whitehorse boys edged Monument Valley 55-54, but the Lady Cougars immediately retook the Drum with a 74-72 win over the Lady Raiders.

A week later the teams renewed their rivalry in the Whitehorse gym, but this time the Cougars dominated with the boys winning 51-44 and the girls coming out on top 56-41.

Whitehorse had one final opportunity to take the Drum back to Montezuma Creek when the Lady Raiders and Lady Cougars squared off in the fifth place semifinals at the 1A state tournament in Richfield February 28.

But the game was never close; Monument Valley dominated Whitehorse 58-35. So for now the Drum remains in Monument Valley where it has since the start of 2020.

Monument Valley girls basketball
The Lady Cougars went 2-2 at the 2020 state tourney to finish in seventh place with wins over Pinnacle and Whitehorse. They suffered a tough 49-46 loss to Milford in the quarterfinals, and lost to Valley in the fifth place game 63-53.

The Monument Valley girls finished the season with 20 wins and seven losses. They were the 6-0 Region 19 Champions and entered the state tournament ranked third in the state.

Whitehorse girls basketball
As mentioned above, the Whitehorse girls basketball team was eliminated by Monument Valley in the fifth place semis, but beat Intermountain Christian 62-17 in the second round of the tournament before losing to Panguitch 54-52 in the quarterfinals.

The Lady Raiders ended their season with a 16-6 record. They were 4-2 in Region 19 play and ranked second headed into state.

Monument Valley boys basketball
On the boys side, Monument Valley beat Diamond Ranch 74-59 on February 22 to earn a spot in the 1A state tournament.

They suffered a 76-57 loss to Wendover in the second round, but bounced back for a 49-30 win over #12 Mount Vernon in the sixth place quarterfinals.

In the sixth place semis, Monument Valley met the Green River Pirates for the third time of the season, and for the third time their Region 19 foe came out on top 68-53 to end the Cougars’ year.

But it was a strong season for the Monument Valley boys. They picked up eight wins, their most in a couple years and their most under second-year head coach Merrill Smith.

Whitehorse boys basketball
Tens were wild for the Whitehorse boys basketball team. They finished the 2019-2020 regular season with a 10-10 record, ranked #10 in the 1A UHSAA RPI standings.

They earned a first-round bye, but unfortunately came out flat February 26 against their second-round opponent, Piute, and fell to the Thunderbirds 55-35.

They battled hard but weren’t able to recover against Milford the following day, and the Tigers ended the Raiders’ season 55-49.

But the Whitehorse boys can hold their heads high. Their 10-12 overall record included their most wins in three seasons.

Basketball All-state
Five Monument Valley and Whitehorse student athletes were honored in the spring when the Deseret News released its annual list of the top Utah high school basketball players.

For 1A Monument Valley, senior guard Jamika Nelson was named to the girls first team, senior forward Tanisha Cowboy made the girls second team, and senior forward Devin Slim received a boys honorable mention.

For 1A Whitehorse, senior forward Daan Filfred made the girls third team and junior guard Bahazhoni Filfred received an honorable mention.

Tanner Tsinigine
Monument Valley senior wrestler Tanner Tsinigine represented a combined 1A and 2A wrestling team at the 20th annual Utah All-Star Duals at Utah Valley University in January.

Though he lost both matches at the event, he rebounded to finish his high school career with his second-straight state championship in Richfield in February.

San Juan Record

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