RICHFIELD — The second-ranked Escalante Moquis romped their way to the 1A semifinals.

Leading by six early, Escalante ripped open its quarterfinal contest with Monticello by outscoring the Buckaroos 22-10 in the second quarter, and the Moquis didn't look back from there.

Escalante played suffocating defense on one end and finished with 25 assists to just seven turnovers on the other, and the net result was a 76-42 win over Monticello Thursday at the Sevier Valley Center.

"We were lighting it up," Escalante co-head coach Brent Cottam admitted afterward.

Cottam was thrilled when informed that his team had racked up the lofty assist-to-turnover ratio of 25-7, but — as one might expect — his thoughts as a coach quickly shifted to "if only."

As in, "if only" that could come on an even bigger stage than the quarterfinals.

"That should've been the state championship game," he said, smiling.

Cottam and co-head coach Greg Allen have preached a take-it-one-game-at-a-time approach to their players in this tournament, and the Moquis treated Thursday's quarterfinal game like it was the title decider.

From start to finish, the Moquis showed the rest of the classification they mean business.

Guard Tim Hughes — for the second playoff round in a row — had an outstanding game and helped spur all of his teammates. Hughes finished with 20 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three blocks.

"He's playing with confidence," said Cottam. "He's confident with the ball in his hands, (and) he wants the ball in his hands."

What made Escalante unstoppable Thursday was the fact that Hughes had help. Lots of it.

Guard Brace Griffin added 12 points, eight assists and two steals, Kevin Griffin had 10 points and five rebounds, and the Moquis also got solid contributions from several other players.

Meanwhile, Dalton Rogers led Monticello with 13 points and nine rebounds. The Buckaroos won a first-round playoff game for the first time in six years a day earlier but simply couldn't cope against Escalante.

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