Jaguars edged out of title shot

In state semifinals, Rock Canyon falls to Eaglecrest in overtime

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Rock Canyon boys basketball coach Kent Grams had a dream the night before the Jaguars played Eaglecrest in the Class 5A semifinals at the Denver Coliseum.

Unfortunately for Rock Canyon, his dream didn't come true.

“I had a dream that Sam (Masten) scored 37 points and we won,” Grams said.

Masten, the Jaguars' 6-foot-3 junior guard, tried his best and scored 34 points but Rock Canyon lost, 61-60, in overtime to top-seeded Eaglecrest on March 10.

It was Rock Canyon's first trip to the Final Four and the fifth-seeded Jaguars almost made it the state championship game, but instead ended the season with a 23-4 record.

“Sam only got 34 but the team fought and competed,” Grams said. “That's all you can ask. We have nothing to be ashamed of. The kids should be extremely proud. They represent us in the right way. Did you see our student section? It was crazy. The support these guys have earned is unrecognizable.”

It appeared for a while that the Jaguars would have their fans return to the Coliseum for the title game.

Rock Canyon led by 10 points in the second quarter and was ahead 52-49 with 2:41 remaining in regulation.

“We were in the bonus and were hoping to get free throws and get the ball in Sam's hands as much as possible,” Grams said. “We missed a couple free throws down the stretch and had a couple costly turnovers.”

It took a Masten twisting layup to tie the game at 54 with 21.2 seconds on the clock to send the game into a four-minute overtime.

Rock Canyon, which notched a buzzer-beating quarterfinal win over Grandview, was ahead 60-56 with 1:15 remaining in overtime but the Raptors' Colbey Ross scored twice to tie the game.

The Jaguars had a chance for the winning shot but turned the ball over with 4.4 seconds remaining. It was Rock Canyon's second turnover in the final 45 seconds.

“We had the turnover,” Grams said. “It went off someone's foot. I don't know whose foot it was. It is what it is. “

After a timeout, Eaglecrest inbounded the ball. Josh Walton raced down the lane and was fouled. He made the second of two free throws with less than a second remaining to win the game.

“I have to give Eaglecrest so much credit,” Grams said. “There were so relentless with their pressure that your focus couldn't waiver at all...

“Colbey Ross is one of the best competitors I've ever seen, had the privilege to watch and coach against.”

Ross finished with 25 points.

Matsen scored five of Rock Canyon' six overtime points. Tyson Gilbert was also in double figures with 15 points for the Jaguars, which allowed 18 points off 13 turnovers. Gilbert had a team-high seven rebounds.

Rock Canyon will return five juniors next season that had significant playing time this year.

“We had opportunities to win,” Grams said. “We have too much heart. We'll be back.”

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