Fans and students from both schools packed the Chaparral gym on Feb. 2 two hours before the start of the Continental League boys basketball showdown against Rock Canyon. It was a game that showcased …
Fans and students from both schools packed the Chaparral gym on Feb. 2 two hours before the start of the Continental League boys basketball showdown against Rock Canyon.
It was a game that showcased Rock Canyon, ranked first in the CHSAANow.com poll, against the third-ranked Wolverines. The contest also highlighted the stellar boys basketball being played this season in Douglas County schools.
Chaparral got off to a fast start before the sellout crowd and never trailed in earning a 73-57 victory over the previously undefeated Jaguars.
“The number one team in the state, you beat them, it's a good win,” said Chaparral coach Tellus Truesdale. “It's a step towards our goal. This will give us confidence and hopefully carry us through the next four games in the conference.
Heading into the game, the top three teams in the Jan. 29 CHSAANow.com Class 5A poll were top-ranked Rock Canyon, No. 2 ThunderRidge and third-rated Chaparral.
After games of Feb. 2, the eight Class 5A Douglas County teams had compiled a combined 110-39 overall record and the 11-team league had a 139-65 mark, with only one team with a losing record.
ThunderRidge still loomed in front of both Chaparral and Rock Canyon. The Wolverines were scheduled to face the Grizzlies in another prominent matchup on Feb. 6 at ThunderRidge. Rock Canyon concludes the regular season with a Feb. 16 game at ThunderRidge.
“The ratings are what they are,” said Rock Canyon coach Kent Grams. “They don't mean much right now. In March is when we want to be playing our best basketball.”
Chaparral took command early with a strong defensive effort as Rock Canyon made only three field goals in the first 16 minutes. Some of the excitement of the game disappeared in the fourth quarter as Chaparral paraded to the charity line and shot 29 free throws to hold off the Jaguars, who were never able to climb closer than nine points.
“I thought our defensive intensity was huge in that good start,” said Truesdale. “We were really focused and that started our offense. We've been preaching that all year long — defense feeds our offense. We've got guys that can put it in the bucket but we've got to get stops.
“You play in front of a big crowd and you are always going to be pumped up. That atmosphere obviously doesn't happen as much as you wish but you also don't get two top teams as often.”
Ronnie DeGray III, a 6-foot-6 junior, paced Chaparral with 27 points and 11 rebounds. Junior Bryce Matthews finished with 18 points and junior Tanner Giles chipped in 11 for the Wolverines, who shot 59 percent from the field.
“It was an unbelievable atmosphere,” said DeGray. “I had never played in a game like that, not even with crosstown Legend. It pumped us up. We emphasized defense the whole game. We tried to stop Sam (Masten) from getting to the basket and have Tyson (Gilbert) shoot threes.”
Masten, a 6-3 senior, had 21 points for Rock Canyon, with 12 coming in the fourth quarter, when he had more success making driving, twisting shots under the basket. Gilbert had 18 points but fouled out with 5:42 remaining in the game.
“We have to get better,” said Grams. “We want to be humble and hungry. We didn't want to lose to Chaparral, obviously, but maybe it was a good thing. We have to adjust and move on.
“We've had a slow start probably for the past five or six games and I told our guys it was going to catch up with us. When you play the best teams in the state, we are not going to be able to fight back. I give a lot of credit to Chaparral. They did a great job on the boards and taking away our transition. They played a heck of a game.”