LOUISVILLE — As seniors embarking on their final state tournament run with the Monarch boys basketball team, head coach Ken Niven has run out of superlatives to describe the play of Ben Beauchamp and Jay MacIntyre.
At least Niven can say this much — there is no better time to have a pair of heady senior guards than playoff time.
Beauchamp and MacIntyre worked their magic once again for the Coyotes on Wednesday, accounting for more than two-thirds of Monarch’s points to lead a 63-45 win against Palmer in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament.
The fifth-seeded Coyotes will visit fourth-seeded Dakota Ridge for a second-round game on Saturday.
“Turnovers have been a huge asset for this team in that we just don’t turn the ball over,” Niven said. “We’re good at taking care of the ball, and a lot of that is Jay. He doesn’t make mistakes with the ball and his assist-to-turnover ratio is incredible. One of the best I’ve ever had as a point guard.
“They have to continue to do that for us to get wins, because they’re just going to get tougher and tougher.”
Although Palmer entered the contest with a 6-17 record, the 12th-seeded Terrors didn’t back down early and stayed with Monarch for the better part of the first quarter. But that only lasted until Beauchamp got hot.
The senior sharpshooter knocked down four consecutive shots during an 11-point second quarter, a spree that included three consecutive 3-pointers. Beauchamp’s final 3-pointer late in the frame gave the Coyotes a 41-28 lead at the break. While both teams opened somewhat lethargically in the third, with both squads going scoreless for nearly 4 minutes, Monarch’s inspired defense allowed the Coyotes to maintain a double-digit lead throughout the second half.
Beauchamp finished with 26 points and MacIntyre added 16, with both players also contributing five assists.
“It’s a good feeling, and if I’m shooting well my team knows,” Beauchamp said. “When anybody’s shooting well we try to get them the ball. It can be anybody on any night, but tonight it was my job to come out and hit 3s. The rim was looking real big. They were giving me a little bit of room and I was knocking them down.”
After notching their fourth win in five games, the Coyotes now turn their sights on a Dakota Ridge squad that enters the postseson with wins in seven of its past eight games. Somewhat surprisingly, the Eagles do not boast a single player averaging double-figures in points, but instead rely on a depth that has allowed seven players to average between five and 10 points.
“We’re going to watch the film, we’re going to figure out what we have to do, and we’ll come out expecting a battle against them,” Beauchamp said. “We’ll give it our all because we’re not ready to be done yet.”
Follow BoCoPreps.com Writer Pat Rooney on Twitter: @prooney07
Monarch 63, Palmer 45
At Monarch H.S.
Barry Thomas 2 3-3 8, Nathan Raak 6 0-0 14, Matt Curti 2 0-0 5, Shannon Roberts 1 1-2 4, Will Ross 1 2-2 4, Nate Courtney 3 0-2 6, Richie Scheuer 1 2-2 4, Sergio Pettis 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 8-11 45.
Shawn Kirkman 2 2-2 6, Sam Fredricksmeyer 1 2-2 4, Erik Lawson 2 0-2 4, Ben Beauchamp 9 4-6 26, Jay MacIntyre 6 4-4 16, Ryan Webb 3 1-1 7, Mac Rowan 0 0-0 0, Kylor Johnson 0 0-1 0. Totals 23 13-18 63.
Score by quarters:
Palmer 16 2 9 8 — 45
Monarch 24 17 10 12 — 63
3-point field goals — Palmer (5): Raak 2, Roberts, Curti, Thomas; Monarch (4): Beauchamp 4. Total fouls — Palmer 13, Monarch 15.