The Jaguars are going back to the Final Four. And, their star player was clear: that shouldn't surprise anyone.

"After we lost to Chap and ThunderRidge (during the regular season), people kind of felt like we were that middle-tier team," Rock Canyon senior Sam Masten said. "We're the number one team in the state for a reason. We just had to come out here tonight and prove that."

They did. With a 54-47 victory over Overland Saturday night in the Great 8, Rock Canyon is now just two wins away from a state championship.

Rock Canyon huddles during a timeout in its Sweet 16 game against Overland on Saturday, March 3.
Jeremy Chavez, Jeremy Chavez

It's the second year in a row that Rock Canyon has made it to the state semifinals. The Final Four is where their dream season came to an end last year, and where they're hoping it begins in 2018.

"We're hungry," Masten said. "We haven't forgotten how that (the semifinal loss to Eaglecrest) felt last year. We're going to use that as motivation."

Masten certainly looked motivated Saturday night. The senior scored 19 points, getting to the rim practically at will to help the Jaguars pull away in the final quarter.

Behind a team-high 17 points from senior Tucson Redding, Overland held a lead for a good chunk of the second half. But then a string of 3-pointers from Tyson Gilbert and Nick Janedis in the third quarter brought Rock Canyon back out in front.

It was the second game in a row that Rock Canyon has been tested by a tough opponent, as the Jaguars survived in Overtime against Eaglecrest in the Sweet 16 just a few nights before.

But, it doesn't matter how close it was. It matters that they're still standing.

Rock Canyon will play No. 5 George Washington Friday night at the Denver Coliseum, with the right to play for a state title on the line.