Richfield • There may not be a better way for a coach to complete a 39-year career than getting a chance to play for a state championship in his final game.
Duchesne's come-from-behind 52-42 victory over Monticello on Friday gave Eagles long-time coach Stan Young a chance to go out a champion.
The Eagles will meet Bryce Valley at 5 p.m. Saturday for the Class 1A boys' basketball championship in what should be an intense game that will feature teams that enjoy playing aggressive defense.
"It's been a great ride," said Young, the Duchesne principal who has been coach for 37 years and has won more than 500 games. "It's been mostly for the kids."
At the start of this semifinal game, it looked as though the Eagles would be playing for third instead of first. Monticello dominated much of the early going and built a double-digit lead.
But Young noticed that a half-court press bothered the Buckaroos late in the first half, and despite the risk of getting in foul trouble, he deployed it to good effect for most of a stirring second-half comeback.
The Eagles weren't shooting well, but the hustle paid off in layups and foul shots during a key stretch in the fourth quarter. With virtually every player on the floor getting in the act, Duchesne put away the game with a 13-2 fourth-quarter scoring run that wasn't pretty but was very effective.
"We clamped down on defense," Young said. "Defense was the key to the whole thing. … That's really who we are."
That was reflected in the fact that Monticello shot just 20 percent from the floor in the fourth quarter.
This is a team without stars as evidenced by a box score that saw Trent Roberts score 15, McKade Nielsen 12 and Josh Hanberg 10. Kaden Moon dished out eight assists and grabbed five steals.
"We just came together as a team," said Hanberg, a little guard whose hustle seemed to spark his team's second-half rally. "We feed off each other's energy. We played for each other. We felt a sense of urgency."
Young agreed. He said he has watched this group grow up together and has learned that the players are a hard-working, unselfish group.
The Buckaroos were led by Austin Maloy with 16 points and Jake Duncan, who had 14 points and nine rebounds.