HIGHLANDS RANCH – Rock Canyon isn’t concerned over the idea that defense wins championships just yet. That’s a March problem.

For now, the Jaguars focused on the idea that defense can win a rivalry game against the top-ranked team in the state.

In a jam-packed gym at ThunderRidge High School, it was Class 6A No. 5 Rock Canyon getting its biggest win of the season, knocking off the No. 1-ranked Grizzlies 48-44.

The 44 points scored is ThunderRidge’s second-lowest point total of the season and the fewest points it has scored against a Colorado opponent this year. That was the formula that the Jaguars were hoping to utilize if they were going to shake up the top of the Colorado Preps Media and Coaches poll come Monday.

“Our goal every year is to be one of the best defensive teams in the state and we have not been great,” coach Kent Grams said. “We’ve been on our guys at practice that they have to get better at weak-side help and compacting lane. Our goal is to always try and hold teams under 45.”

Accomplishing goals is fun.

There is plenty of praise to offer up the Jaguars (14-3 overall, 5-0 Continental League) for their defensive effort. The point total is near the top of the list, but also the way they were able to limit ThunderRidge standout Andrew Crawford.

The University of Colorado commit was held below his season average of 14 points per game and scored just 10. He was held without a field goal until late in the second quarter when he threw down a dunk on a backdoor lob.

(Dan Mohrmann/ColoradoPreps.com)

For the Jags, they set a comfortable tone on offense, jumping out a 12-5 lead early. Macoy Terry and Jasen Lehman each knocked down a 3-pointer in the first quarter and just stayed patient in their offensive sets as they looked for opportunities to attack the basket.

“It held us relax for sure,” Terry said. “ThunerRidge usually gets off to a good start. For us to get off to a good start against them, it really helped us relax.”

The Grizzlies (15-3, 4-1) made just three field goals in the first quarter and struggled into the second. They made their first basket of the second quarter with three minutes remaining on the clock. They didn’t connect on a 3-pointer until late in the third when Tommy Wright finally knocked one down.

Lehman had a team-high 13 for the Jags and Terry was right behind him with 12. Reid Finch added eight and Nolan Kliewer had seven.

“We came in knowing their weaknesses on defense,” Lehman said. “We knew the guys that weren’t great at playing laterally so we just blew right by them and looked for kick outs.”

This win by the Jaguars certainly make the 6A landscape interesting with the regular season ending in about three weeks. Rock Canyon has lost to Overland and Valor Christian but beaten Mountain Vista, Regis Jesuit, Douglas County and now ThunderRidge.

On the flip side, the Grizzlies have wins over Valor and Douglas County but has now suffered a close loss to Rock Canyon.

There may not be a tougher task than finding one specific team worth of being a team to beat so for now, everyone is just taking things one day at a time.

“I’m worried about practice tomorrow,” Grams said. “We have to continue to get better. There are a lot of good teams in the state this year. We just have to continue to get better, continue to buy in, continue to love each other and be happy for each other’s successes. We’re making progress.”

(Dan Mohrmann/ColoradoPreps.com)