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Boys basketball: Monarch continues to look for deep ball, falling to Fort Collins

Monarch's Dean Reeves shoots against Fort Collins Tuesday in Louisville. (Brent W. New/BoCoPreps.com)
Monarch’s Dean Reeves shoots against Fort Collins Tuesday in Louisville. (Brent W. New/BoCoPreps.com)
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LOUISVILLE — Monarch boys basketball coach Tim DeBerry acknowledged that it’s around that time when the good teams separate themselves from the just OK ones.

With a little more than a month remaining in the regular season, the Coyotes know they need to find answers, and somewhat quickly, to find out where they stand following a third straight loss.

“We got to start knocking down shots again,” said DeBerry, whose team fell to Class 6A No. 10 Fort Collins, 80-60, Tuesday night — part of a losing skid that also included a loss to No. 1 Fossil Ridge on Friday and Mountain Range Saturday.

“We were really hot early and won nine games early,” he said. “We got to knock down shots. That’s our equalizer.”

Without it, the undersized Coyotes (9-6, 3-4 6A Front Range League) probably have little chance against bigger, more physical teams like the Lambkins (12-2, 6-0).

LOUISVILLE: Monarch's Riley Montemayor goes up for a layup against Fort Collins Tuesday, January 24, 2023. (Brent W. New/BoCoPreps.com)
LOUISVILLE: Monarch’s Riley Montemayor goes up for a layup against Fort Collins Tuesday, January 24, 2023. (Brent W. New/BoCoPreps.com)

Fort Collins seniors Luke Wagstaff and Jamar Mitchell looked like men among boys on the court against Monarch. Played like it, too.

Wagstaff — listed at 6-foot-8, 230 pounds — was nearly automatic inside the paint, bullying through defenders, finishing through outstretched arms as if they were cobwebs.

Early in the third quarter, he broke between a pair of defenders, calling out “and one” after another powerful finish. Mitchell followed with six straight for his team, getting just about anything he wanted from inside 5 feet.

The Fort Collins lead pushed into the 20s late in the quarter. Monarch got as close as 17 in the fourth.

Wagstaff finished with 24 points for the Lambkins, Jayce King had 22 and Mitchell 18.

“I tell you what, exactly what I told my kids, I thought we played really well in the fourth quarter,” DeBerry said. “We didn’t back down and got used to it. We’ve played some pretty good teams in this three-game stretch and even though you lose, you got to take some positives from it.”

As for the Coyotes’ outside shooting … they need it.

Van Nellessen hit four of his team’s eight 3s, finishing with a team-high 18 points. Aidan Kennedy hit three 3s and had 11.

It was the third straight game Monarch had eight or fewer 3s. It had double-digit makes from deep in six of its first 12 games, starting 9-3.

DeBerry thinks part of the shooting blues is something that will take care of itself.

“Our motto is shooters shoot,” said DeBerry, whose team went 8 of 26 from 3 against Fort Collins. “And we’re just going to keep shooting it. Is there anything we can do? Yeah, screen a little better, move the ball around a little quicker.”

Nellessen said the fix might be as simple as just getting a few more shots up in the gym.

“When our shots are falling, we will win every game,” he said.

Monarch is at Horizon Friday.