Rock Canyon's boys basketball team was top-ranked for a majority of the season in the CHSAANow.com poll. The Jaguars were the top-seed in this season's Class 5A state tournament pairings but came …
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Rock Canyon's boys basketball team was top-ranked for a majority of the season in the CHSAANow.com poll.
The Jaguars were the top-seed in this season's Class 5A state tournament pairings but came into the Great 8 round on March 3 feeling overlooked because it seemed like the Jaguars were not playing well.
Rock Canyon lost to Chaparral and ThunderRidge down the stretch of the Continental League season and then had to rally to post a 65-64 overtime Sweet 16 victory over Eaglecrest.
“We weren't trying to give the impression of not playing well,” said coach Kent Grams. “It was like your first heartbreak after losing to Chap and then losing to ThunderRidge. But they were two good teams. They were in the Great 8, too.”
However, the Jaguars made enough plays in the fourth quarter and advanced to their second straight Final Four with a 54-47 quarterfinal victory over Overland.
“It feels unreal,” said guard Sam Masten. “We kind of came into the game a little bit underrated. And to come out and get the win for our fans, students and coaches was unbelievable.”
Rock Canyon will take a 24-2 record into its semifinal game at the Denver Coliseum on March 9 at 8:30 p.m. in a rematch against George Washington. The Jaguars beat the Patriots, 73-57, in the second game of the season on Dec. 1.
“That was a long time ago, last year,” said Grams. “They are a heck of a team. We'll have our hands full. They are a super-athletic club.”
Overland was an athletic club too but Rock Canyon rallied from a four-point deficit in the third period and outscored the Trailblazers 7-3 in the final three minutes to seal the victory.
“Good teams find a way to win,” said Masten. “That's what we did. We made good plays down the stretch.”
Masten led the Jaguars with 19 points and five rebounds but at first he was hard to find.
The 6-foot-3 senior, who will play at the University of Northern Colorado, cut his finger and had to change his jersey. Instead of blood-stained No. 5, he wore No. 24.
Once during the game while a teammate was shooting a free throw, Masten stood near the sidelines and had Rock Canyon trainer Grace Sims re-tape his finger.
Tyson Gilbert, the other half of Rock Canyon's dynamic guard tandem, finished with 15 points, and Nick Janedis contributed eight points.
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