HIGHLANDS RANCH – Down by just two and with momentum on its side, Boulder was exactly where it wanted to be to start the fourth quarter of Saturday afternoon’s Class 5A playoff game.
The 28th-seeded Panthers were looking for the upset of No. 5 Rock Canyon, and a 41-39 game was the ideal pace for them.
“We wanted play in the 50s and felt good about that in first half,” Boulder coach Jack Clarke said. “We wanted long possessions that ended with rhythm shot.”
The Panthers (15-10) were getting that for the first 24 minutes, but in the final eight minutes the Jaguars (21-3) imposed their will. They scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter, the last five off of turnovers, and pulled away for a 61-50 win Saturday in the second round of the state tournament.
It was a tough end for a senior-laden Boulder team that grew up together.
“I can’t say how proud I am the way we fought to the end, the way we played,” Luke Wilson said. “I love these guys and I’m really happy for the great season we had.”
They nearly extended it another few days behind Wilson’s game-high 28 points and 13 points and nine rebounds from fellow senior Peter Chopra. The Panthers used a patient offense and solid defense to keep the game close through three quarters.
Chopra had 11 of his points in the first half when Boulder fought back from three- and four-point deficits to tie it at 24-24 at the break.
“If we play our best ball we can win that game,” Wilson said. “We did that in the first half and in spots in the third quarter.”
In the fourth quarter the breaks went to Rock Canyon. The Panthers had a long first possession at the beginning of the period but missed a shot, got the offensive rebound but then turned it over. They missed a couple of more shots and two more turnovers led to easy points for Rock Canyon.
“The first possession of the fourth quarter we had about a 45-second possession, got an offensive rebound, had two or three cracks at it and didn’t find the bottom of the net,” Clarke said. “Then they went on a 10-0 run and it happened pretty quickly.
“We were a couple of possessions away from stealing one.”
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Rock Canyon 61, Boulder 50
At Rock Canyon
Wilson 8 7-10 28, Chopra 5 0-0 13, Davis 1 0-0 3, Ryan 1-0-0 3, Dulchinos 1 0-0 2, Kang 0 1-2 1. Totals 16 8-14 50.
Masten 9 4-7 22, Rardin 3 7-8 16, Gilbert 3 3-3 10, Janedis 2 2-4 7, Bley 2 0-0 4, Bryson 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 16-22 61.
Score by quarters:
3-point field goals — Boulder (10): Wilson 5, Chopra 3, Ryan, Davis; Rock Canyon (5): Rardin 3, Gilber, Janedis. Total fouls — Boulder 24, Rock Canyon 17. Fouled out — Gilbert.