Boys Basketball: Wolves stunned by controversial Great 8 finish, thought OT favored them

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Grandview senior Gaige Prim walks off the court dejectedly after the Wolves’ 42-40 loss to Rock Canyon in a Class 5A boys state basketball Great 8 playoff contest on March 4, 2017, at the Denver Coliseum. A controversial ending that saw the Jaguars win on a tip-in that was allowed by officials — which later looked like it should have been waved off as the ball hadn’t left Nick Janedis’ hand before time expired — and had their season end at 21-5. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

It didn’t feel right when the Grandview boys basketball team went into the locker room after an agonizing two-point loss in the Class 5A Great 8 March 4.

When the Wolves emerged from the locker room at the Denver Coliseum, it felt even worse, as video and photo proof on social media gave them evidence that they should have been playing overtime against Rock Canyon instead of lamenting a 42-40 loss that ended their outstanding season.

The Jaguars scored four points in the final 4.7 seconds and won the game on a tip-in shot deemed to be good despite Grandview’s vehement claim it was late. Freeze frames and video clips that hit Twitter minutes later corraborated that belief, but to no avail.

“We came out and our girls team was right there saying ‘you don’t want to see this,’” Rogers said. “I think the pictures of it went viral. But what can you do?”

Indeed with no replay possible in Colorado high school basketball — which doesn’t even have a shot clock — the Wolves (21-5) were forced to accept the outcome. The agonizing footage of the wild finish made it all the way to ESPN’s SportsCenter.

The controversial final scenario went like this: Leading 40-38 and coming out of a time out with 19.5 seconds left, Grandview needed a defensive stop to end the game, but the Jaguars’ Colin Rardin sliced in and made a layup to tie it at 40-40 with 4.7 seconds left.

The clock stopped briefly — which it shouldn’t have per Colorado High School Activities Association rules — then started again when Grandview senior Gaige Prim grabbed the ball and tried to make a quick inbounds pass to speedy senior guard Lechaun Duhart for a last shot.

Rock Canyon’s Sam Masten stole the ball just a few feet from the hoop and put up a shot that bounced off the rim. Teammate Nick Janedis followed it up and in as the buzzer sounded and the corresponding lights on the backboard lit up signaling the end of the game.

“The dude grabbed the ball and I was right there when the buzzer went off, so it shouldn’t have counted,” Prim said with 100 percent confidence.

“If they scored, we were going to go down and score right back on them, but I had a dumb turnover.”

Duhart, who can be a blur with the basketball in his hands, knew exactly what he was going to do when he got the inbounds pass.

“My plan was to get the ball, have a little bit of a drive going when I got across halfcourt, put up a jumper and hope for the best,” he said. “We were just trying to get a shot off.

“The whole point was to not let them score, period, and run out the clock, but he (Rardin) drove and made the shot. We tried to kick it out really fast, but everything got sped up and it went the wrong way.”

The Wolves agreed universally on two things: that playing under the bright lights of the Denver Coliseum for the first time contributed to a sluggish start (they trailed 17-5 after one quarter) and  that if the game had gone to overtime as it should have, they would have won it and earned a shot at Centennial League rival Eaglecrest in the March 10 semifinals.

“We would have been in the Final Four, no doubt,” Prim said.

Junior Ben Boone felt the same way, especially since he finally found his shooting touch late in the game. Boone said he was short on his first 10 warm-up shots at the Coliseum, where there’s no wall behind the backboard as there is in a normal high school gym.

Boone knocked down two 3-pointers in the final minute for his only points of the night, the second giving his team a two-point edge it thought it could keep.

The game will remain etched in the mind of players who will return.

“It was good to compete and see what it was like to play at the Coliseum under the bright lights,” Boone said. “It just wasn’t the outcome that we wanted.”

Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel