New number, same Sam Masten as Rock Canyon beats Overland in 5A boys hoops Great 8

Overland Rock Canyon boys basketball

(Marlee Smith/CHSAANow.com)

DENVER — A change in jersey is just what the doctor ordered for Sam Masten. Rock Canyon hadn't made a field goal until after Masten got blood on his standard No. 5.

So that came off and No. 24 came on. And the shooting ills were cured as the Jaguars beat Overland 54-47 to return to the Class 5A boys Final 4.

"At the start of the game when I put on 24 I made like my first six shots," Masten said. "I was feeling pretty good."

Masten finished the game with 19 points, but it was his ability to operate the Rock Canyon offense that made all the difference in the world.

He scored the first two points for the Jags on a pair of free throws, but Trailblazers had jumped out to a 8-2 lead at that point.

"We've had slow starts," Rock Canyon coach Kent Grams said. "Teams have been playing us so differently that it's been hard to get into a rhythm and figure out how to attack things."

A cut on his finger forced the jersey change. At that point, the guy wearing No. 24 looked like the guy that had haunted teams in the Continental League all year and made Rock Canyon the perceived No. 1 team in the state.

At least until the loss to Chaparral. 

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

"I feel like after we lost to Chap and to ThunderRidge that people thought we were a middle-tier team," Masten said. "We're the No. 1 team for a reason and we've been battle tested this whole year and we wanted to come out here and prove that tonight."

The Trailblazers got more than enough offense from Tucson Redding who had taken the Jags to task for 18 points through three quarters.

His first points of the fourth quarter came on a pair of free throws that brought Overland to within three points.

But Tyson Gilbert pushed the lead back to five with a tough layup. Another free throw from Nick Janedis pushed the lead to six, but a turnover gave the ball back to the Trailblazers with under a minute remaining.

On the ensuing possession, Redding's third personal foul put it right back in the Jags' hands. Overland had several looks to close the gap, but to the delight of the Rock Canyon section, none of the shots fell.

It was an easier path to this year's Final 4 for Rock Canyon. Last year, the Jags had to make a shot at the buzzer to beat Grandview, a team who will also be playing next weekend. 

But no matter how the Jags advanced, the only important thing in Grams' mind is that they did.

"We just want to move on," he said.

The Jags will see George Washington in the 5A semifinals next Friday. And when they take the court, Masten will don No. 5 despite the success he saw in this week's substitute uniform.

"I've been wearing No. 5 my whole career so I probably have to go back to that one," he said. "But 24 did me just fine, so it's all good."