No word as to whether plans exist to rename the tournament The Monarch Invitational, but make no mistake, the Coyotes owned it last week.
The Coyotes boys and girls basketball teams each came away victorious at the Thunderhawks Hoops Fest at Prairie View, and, in a fitting congruence, each squad enters the break 9-1 and with two tournament titles in tow.
The boys defeated Front Range League-rival Mountain Range 43-40 in the tournament finale Saturday, Dec. 20. After jumping to a 19-point lead after three quarters, things got dicey in the final moments when the Mustangs outscored Monarch 20-4 in the fourth.
But the Coyotes, operating under an even more patient system than usual this season under coach Ken Niven, made it two tournament title in two weeks. They also won the Fairview Festival a week early, knocking off the host Knights 50-47 in the finale.
The deliberate, Princeton-like approach hasn’t yielded many gigantic scoring performances, but it has led to a 90-percent success rate in the win-loss column.
“It gets tiring playing defense for two minutes at a time,” Coyotes senior forward Erik Lawson during the Hoops Fest tourney. “Anyone’s going to get tired doing that, and then you have to make a play on offense. So doing that wears them down.”
The Monarch girls clobbered Loveland, another Front Range League foe, 54-28 in the title game Friday, Dec. 19. The Coyotes girls system also fosters balance, and they got it in this one.
Nine different players scored, led by senior Raegen Rohn’s 12 points and six steals. Rohn scored in double digits in all three games of the tournament.
“I’m pretty excited about where we are right now,” Coyotes coach Gail Hook said. “To get to three tournament championship games and win two out of the three is great. We’ve played some great teams throughout the month. There’s been only one weak team in the bunch.”
The Coyotes also won the Mountain Vista & Rock Canyon Tip Off Tournament and finished runner-up in the Battle At The Ridge after losing to Grandview in the final.
Hook said her team’s best performance might have come in the Loveland game, and credited the end of finals as a stress reliever for her academically-driven bunch. Now, after a 10-game whirlwind to start the season, the Coyotes will get some needed practice time.
“We’ll actually have some time to be with the kids and watch game film and help the kids understand what they need to do to get better,” Hook said. “We just haven’t had a lot of film-breakdown time. It’s been more about scouting other teams and getting ready for them.”