AURORA | If an open layup or two or a few more free throws had fallen Tuesday night, the Regis Jesuit boys basketball team might have been the one to knock Rock Canyon off its undefeated perch.
But the Raiders just missed a couple of point blank shots and uncharacteristically misfired on eight free throws, which sabotaged their chances of beating Class 5A’s top-ranked team in Continental League play.
Regis Jesuit got within two points in the final minute, but the composed Jaguars (14-0) won their third game by six or fewer points over an Aurora program with a 55-50 victory to remain the largest classification’s only unbeaten team.
“They’re the best team I’ve seen this year and we were right there,” Regis Jesuit coach Ken Shaw said. “I liked our effort, but we didn’t shoot very well from the line and missed a few layups down the stretch. I thought we were right there.”
Shaw’s Raiders (10-4) dropped their third consecutive game in a brutal stretch that included a non-league meeting with George Washington and a league opener against ThunderRidge.
Senior Elijah Martinez kept the Raiders in range with a hot third quarter on his way to 13 points, which was matched by junior Jamil Safieddine for team-high, and senior Sam Bannec added 11.
Rock Canyon also had a trio of double-digit scorers in seniors Tyson Gilbert — who had a game-high 17, including two clinching free throws in the closing seconds — Blake Williams (13) and Sam Masten (12). Masten scored nine of his points in the second half to help keep Regis Jesuit at bay.
Martinez’s layup in the early stages of the third quarter tied the game at 25-25, but the Jaguars edged in front by eight points going to the fourth quarter. Still, they couldn’t shake the Raiders, who made their move midway through the final period.
Bannec’s drives to the basket began to pay off down the stretch as he reached the free throw line on back-to-back occasions — going 3-for-4 — to cut into the deficit and Safieddine’s tough baseline drive and three-point play made it a 50-48 ballgame with 1:57 remaining.
In a complete flip from the first half in which Rock Canyon was in the double bonus early in the second quarter, Regis Jesuit had to foul multiple times to get them there in the closing minutes and lost precious time in the process.
The Raiders scored just two points the rest of the way on a Tyler Kellam layup and Masten and Gilbert combined to go 3-for-4 in the final 16.4 seconds to seal it for the Jaguars.
Regis Jesuit will try to snap a three-game losing streak when it plays at Douglas County on Jan. 18. Three losses came to teams with a combined 39-6 record (Rock Canyon 14-0, ThunderRidge 14-1 and George Washington 11-5), so Shaw believes his team will eventually see the benefits.
“We have to focus on and take the good we can learn from this and make us a better team,” Shaw said. “You’d like to win every game in the regular season, but sometimes advancement is made from adversity.”
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
ROCK CANYON 55, REGIS JESUIT 50
Score by quarters:
Rock Canyon 14 11 17 13 — 55
Regis Jesuit 12 10 12 16 – 50
ROCK CANYON (55)
Blake Williams 1 8-8 13, Nick Janedis 3 0-0 8, Sam Masten 4 4-6 12, Tyson Gilbert 5 6-7 17, Joe Bryson 0 0-0 0, Jaylen Eikenberg 1 0-0 3, Matt Rich 1 0-0 2, Jake Hassett 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 18-21 55.
REGIS JESUIT (50)
Jamil Safieddine 3 6-7 13, Sam Bannec 3 4-6 11, Payton Egloff 3 0-0 8, Elijah Martinez 6 0-0 13, Matt Wheelock 1 0-4 2, Tama Tuitele 0 1-2 1, Tyler Kellam 1 0-0 2, Bohdan O’Shaughnessy 0 0-0 0, Jacob Klus 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 11-19 50.
3-point field goals — Rock Canyon (5): Nick Janedis 2, Jaylen Eikenberg, Tyson Gilbert, Blake Williams. Regis Jesuit (5): Payton Egloff 2, Sam Bannec, Elijah Martinez, Jamil Safieddine. Total fouls — Rock Canyon 19, Regis Jesuit 19. Fouled out — Regis Jesuit: Bannec. Technical fouls — None.