Boys basketball: Monarch swarms past Greeley West, now 7-1 in FRL

GREELEY — Like their counterparts from their school’s hockey team, the Monarch boys basketball team has been working with all-out line changes the past couple weeks.

It’s a simple solution the ongoing dilemma of just trying to keep up with their own style of play — a fast-paced, swing-the-ball-and-move type offense that first year head coach Josh Brenning has installed and that the Coyotes are adapting to quite well.

“It’s definitely different than last year,” MoHi’s Keegan Johnson said of the offense, which allowed them to put up nearly 50 shots through three quarters of play in a 59-45 Front Range League win. “We take pride in running out, getting out and getting our shots going and if they aren’t falling we’re getting to the rim.”

Working in three-minute shifts has done wonders for this young team who only returned one starter from a year ago, the last under longtime coach Ken Niven.

Thursday’s win didn’t come without some hiccups, but they are now 7-1 in the league and 11-8 overall.

“We’re still trying to put two halves together, but the guys are believing in what we’re doing and they’re trusting each other; maybe at the start of the year they hadn’t quite developed that yet,” Brenning said, his team gearing up for the final four games of the regular season, which includes a home finale against FRL frontrunner Fort Collins on Feb. 16. “We’re still in that mode of if one guy messes up it really shows but they’re helping each other out a lot. We’re hoping to keep rolling.”

Greeley West (9-10, 2-6) endured the waves for a while on its home floor, but Johnson had a couple of key plays right before and after halftime that sprung MoHi on a 16-2 run that broke the game open.

After the Spartans had cut the Monarch lead to 24-21 with less than a minute left in the second quarter, Monarch held the ball for the half’s final shot and were able to work the possession to a wide-open Johnson beyond the arc to make it 27-21.

Immediately out of the break, Johnson made an aggressive drive at the baseline and then kicked out to Tylor Trinh for a 3-ball, and Monarch eventually out-scored GWHS 25-9 in a decisive third quarter.

Trinh and Roy Grigsby, the two top scorers for Monarch entering the game, struggled to find their range in the first half but finished with 15 and 13 points, respectively. In the meantime, Johnson had a huge first half with 16 points and finished with 21.

Monarch was missing three players that have at least five starts apiece, too.

“We just came into halftime with confidence after that shot and then came out and set the tone,” Johnson said. “It was fun.”

“Keegan went in there and just really saved us in the first half, and that’s kind of been the way it’s gone,” Brenning said. “If our two big scorers aren’t quite clicking, there’s been one kid who has pulled us through … and when Roy and Tylor get going, we’re tough to beat I think.”

Adam Dunivan: or

Monarch 59, Greeley West 45

At Greeley West HS

MONARCH (11-8, 7-1)

MacIntyre 0 1-4 1, Ramsey 0 0-0 0, Chen 0 0-0 0, J. Grigsby 0 0-0 0, Schmanski 0 0-0 0, Stewart 1 0-0 2, Weiler 0 0-0 0, Johnson 7 4-4 21, Trinh 6 1-1 15, R. Grigsby 5 0-1 13, Stimac 1 0-2 3, Tolbert 0 4-4 4. Totals 20 10-16 59.

GREELEY WEST (9-10, 2-6)

Sepeda 2 1-2 6, J. Clark 2 0-0 4, DeLaCroix 3 0-0 7, Miller 0 0-0 0, Gonzales 5 0-0 10, Loma 0 0-0 0, Flores 0 2-2 2, Perches 2 0-0 4, B. Clark 2 0-2 4, Zuniga-Hernandez 3 0-1 6. Totals 19 3-7 45.

Score by quarters:

Monarch 14 13 25 7 — 59 

Greeley West 9 12 9 15 — 45

3-point field goals — Monarch (9): R. Grigsby 3, Johnson 3, Trinh 2, Stimac; G. West (4): Gonzales 2, Sepeda, DeLaCroix.