Rock Canyon basketball embracing the bruising necessary to win program’s first state title

The first drill in Rock Canyon‘s Tuesday practice, “Straight Line Attacks”, required the Jaguars to drive toward the basket from the wing and from the baseline — while fighting through assistant coaches with football pads who blasted the players as they entered the paint.

The physicality and intensity set from the very beginning of practice is indicative of Rock Canyon’s willingness to embrace the bruising necessary to win the program’s first state title following a promising Class 5A Final Four run in 2017.

Because of last season’s coming-out campaign — which also resulted in the first Continental League title in program history — the target has been on the Jaguars’ back since November, as they were ranked No. 1 for the majority of the winter before suffering a 73-57 loss to No. 2 Chaparral on Feb. 2 in Parker.

That setback, the lone of the season for No. 3 Rock Canyon (20-1, 7-1), sparked a renewed fire under a group that already has plenty of motivation.

“We were obviously feeling the burden a little bit when we were 18-0 and lost to Chap, and some people kind of wrote us off,” said star senior point guard Sam Masten, a Northern Colorado commit. “Now, we’re just using that as motivation. We feel like, as a team, we’ve been through just about any adversity you’re going to see over the past couple seasons.”

The Jaguars close league play with senior night against Castle View on Wednesday — in which Rock Canyon head coach Kent Grams can notch his 100th career win — and then on the road against No. 1 ThunderRidge in front of an already sold-out crowd on Friday.

If Rock Canyon wins both, the Continental League title will be split three ways between the Jaguars, the Grizzlies and Chaparral.

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Source:: The Denver Post

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