PARKER — Chaparral knows its not going to win any state championships in February, but the Wolverines sure announced themselves as contenders on Friday night.
The Wolverines, ranked No. 3 in Class 5A boys basketball, handed top-ranked Rock Canyon its first loss of the season in a 73-57 home win.
"The number one team in the state, you beat them, and it's a good win," said Chaparral coach Tellus Truesdale. "For us, this isn't our goal, it's a step towards our goal, but it's not our goal.
"Tonight showed us that we can play with anybody, and it gives our guys confidence," the coach added. "Hopefully we take care of business in the next four games, because in this conference, there's no sleepers."
Chaparral star Ronnie DeGray III led all scorers with 27 points.
"It's amazing, it's a great feeling," DeGray said, "but we've still got to get it done."
The highly-anticipated matchup had been circled all week, and fans — especially students, on both sides — showed out in force. The game sold out, and fans started to be turned away at 5 p.m. ahead of the 7 p.m. tipoff.
It made for a playoff-like atmosphere.
"It was once-in-a-liftime," said DeGray, a junior. "I've never seen it like that, not even for one of our rivalry games."
"We were talking about that before, even with the Rock Canyon kids," Truesdale said. "We said, 'Regardless of the outcome, this one of those that in 20 years, at your 20th class reunion, this game is going to be talked about, the atmosphere.' Even the fans, they're going to remember this. Not just the players. And that's what you hope for from a high school game.
"Both sides have amazing fans. We just told the guys, 'Soak it up. Look around during warmups, and enjoy it.'"
Chaparral responded to the energy with a fast start to its first quarter. The Wolverines led the game from start to finish, including a 19-7 advantage after that first frame, and a 32-21 lead at halftime.
"We were pumped up," DeGray said. "It felt like we didn't even have to stretch for this game."
"I thought our defensive intensity was huge," Truesdale said. "We've been preaching that all year."
Both teams found themselves in foul trouble. But Chaparral, already lacking depth and also missing junior guard Joseph Dalton with a foot injury, was able to play through it and hold off everything Rock Canyon threw its way.
"We're not going super deep in that bench, so there are times that we're scrambling," Truesdale said. "I see coaches where they sit their guys, and they sit the whole half, but they end up with three fouls. There's a fine line there, you've got to be smart."
Bryce Matthews also had a huge game for Chaparral with 18 points, while Tanner Giles had 10, and Kobe Sanders had eight.
Rock Canyon star Sam Masten led his team with 21 points, and Tyson Gilbert had 18.
With the win, Chaparral improved to 16-3. Rock Canyon, meanwhile, is now 18-1.