Richfield • You’ll have to excuse Monticello’s Tanner Eardley if he was more than a little proud of his nephew Sheldon Black.
After all, the 5-foot-8 Black hit two three-point baskets and six clutch free throws in a tense fourth quarter Saturday night to lead Monticello to a 34-31 Class 1A boys’ win over Panguitch and the Buckaroos first state hoops title since 1994.
What makes this story a bit unusual is that Uncle Tanner was a senior starter for Monticello and a player nephew Black has always admired.
"I’m real proud of my nephew," said Eardley, a senior leader. "He stepped up a lot. It was great to play with him this year and to be the role model I tried to be...It is very emotional, me being a senior leaving and being able to play with my nephew. It’s been a great experience."
Black said playing with his uncle was amazing.
"It’s never happened that often, if ever," said Black, who scored 15 points. "It’s just really amazing to play with him and share this with him."
Perhaps nobody was more nervous than Monticello fan Terry Eardley, who is Tanner’s father and Sheldon’s grandpa.
"There were lots of butterflies," he said. "One minute you are higher than high. The next minute, you are questioning what’s going on. But it’s exciting."
It was that kind of game.
Monticello used a stifling zone defense to bottle up Panguitch star Tyce Barney and clung to a narrow lead much of the game. When the Bobcats’ Keldon Norris hit straight points early in the fourth quarter to give Panguitch its first lead, it appeared as though the Buckaroos could be in trouble.
But then Black went to work, hitting a three-pointer and three free throws to give Monticello a 31-26 lead with 37 seconds to go., After Trey Barney hit a three-pointer with 8.2 seconds to bring Panguitch within one, Black calmly put in two free throws to ice the game.
"I have always dreamed about making the free throws at the end of the game," he said. "Tonight it actually came true...I had it [the dream] so many times, a million times. I don’t know how to explain it."
Monticello coach Tony Esplin praised Panguitch for being a tough team that he never counted out.
"You just try to make them do the little extra things," he said. "Our kids worked and we made them work for it...We worked hard and played together like nothing else. They defended us well. ... We forced a few early, and there were a few plays we could get by on them, just enough to get things going.
"The kids executed everything we tried."
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