HIGHLANDS RANCH — No doubt, the Monarch boys basketball team learned a painful lesson that, at times, seemed as if it would never end.
Yet while Mountain Vista may have run away with the win against the Coyotes in a Class 5A Sweet 16 showdown Wednesday night, the top-seeded Golden Eagles also may have inadvertently provided a template for Monarch to aspire to once the club sets its sights on the 2013-14 season.
In a raucous atmosphere at Mountain Vista, the Golden Eagles secured a berth in the John Casey Region final with a 75-60 dismantling of the Coyotes. It will be the second consecutive Elite 8 appearance for Mountain Vista, which, as a junior-laden No. 5 seed last year, knocked off top-seeded Fairview on the road before using that postseason run to evolve into one of the top teams in the state.
While Monarch was unable to replicate that road magic, the Coyotes lose only two seniors from a team that received the bulk of its production form its talented junior class.
“We’re a really young team and I guess we weren’t used to playing in that type of pressure situation,” junior guard Ben Beauchamp said. “Coming into the year, we were unsure what the season was going to be like. We bought in from the first day and really stuck together making it this far.
“Mountain Vista did the same thing. They only lost a couple guys coming into this year, and they fed off what they did (last) year. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to work hard in the offseason. We’re going to get stronger, we’re going to be better, and we’re going to make a run.”
Things spiraled out of control in a hurry for the Coyotes, as the deep and athletic Golden Eagles buried Monarch with a series of dominant first-half runs.
Monarch (19-6) held a 7-5 lead in the latter stages of the first quarter when Mountain Vista erupted, finishing the opening frame with a 15-1 run before adding the first five points of the second quarter. Everything that could go wrong seemingly did for Monarch, which watched junior guard Jay MacIntyre get whistled for his third foul in the final seconds of the first quarter.
Mountain Vista continued to take advantage of Monarch’s 13 first-half turnovers, scoring the final 10 points of the half to take a 43-19 lead into the break.
“I thought we defended really poorly with their penetration in the first half,” Monarch coach Ken Niven said. “And then our movement was really poor. Their pressure had a lot to do with that.”
Monarch managed to trim the deficit to 16 points in the third quarter until Mountain Vista answered with eight consecutive points. The Coyotes once again battled to within 14 points with 4 minutes, 34 seconds left in the fourth, but the Golden Eagles put the finishing touches on Monarch’s fate with a 7-0 burst.
Junior Kyle Billingsley turned in a strong game off the bench for the Coyotes, knocking down four 3-pointers and finishing with a team-leading 21 points. MacIntyre scored 15 of his 16 points after halftime, while Beauchamp finished with 13.
Elijah Valdez made five 3-pointers and paced Mountain Vista (22-2) with 24 points.
“I told them from Day 1 that they were a special group,” Niven said. “They bought in at practice, and that’s where it all begins and ends.”
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Mountain Vista 75, Monarch 60
At Mountain Vista HS
Krason 1 3-3 5, Beauchamp 5 3-6 13, MacIntyre 3 8-13 16, Kirkman 2 0-0 5, Lawson 0 0-0 0, Fredricksmeyer 0 0-0 0, Billingsley 7 3-4 21, Weaver 0 0-0 0, Stewart 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 17-26 60.
MOUNTAIN VISTA (22-2)
Qadri 2 0-0 4, Valdez 8 3-4 24, Pemberton 6 2-4 15, Wiscombe 1 0-0 2, Carter 4 2-3 10, Smith 2 1-1 5, Respass 3 2-4 8, Sewell 1 2-2 4, Knoll 0 0-0 0, Moore 1 1-1 3, Sawaged 0 0-0 0. Totals 28 13-19 75.
Score by quarters:
Monarchr 8 11 21 20 — 60
Mountain Vista 20 23 22 10 — 75
3-point field goals — Monarch (7): Billingsley 4, MacIntyre 2, Kirkman; Mountain Vista (6): Valdez 5, Pemberton. Total fouls — Monarch 19, Mountain Vista 23. Fouled out — Lawson, MacIntyre.