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Castle Rock was competitive for three quarters, and then mounted a comeback.

It fell short, though, and the Rockets lost to Stevenson 63-52 at LeBaron Court on Friday despite total team effort in the Trico 1A League girls’ basketball game. Brooke Wirkkala and Rachel Anderson scored 12 points apiece while Zoe Naugle finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Rockets coach Kim Karnofski said. “But they played hard. They had a lot of energy. The kids that came off the bench played really well, I’m really pleased. It’s a stepping stone, from where we are to where we’re going. And it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. And I just hope the kids hang in there and believe in themselves.”

It was back and forth over the first half, and a Stevenson run was cut short with a Hanna Lair 3-pointer just before halftime, which made the score 27-26 in favor of Stevenson.

The third quarter was different, though, as Stevenson poured in 25 points to counter Castle Rock’s eight.

The game seemed to be over. A few shots fell for the Rockets early in the fourth quarter, though, and it was evident the team had found its rhythm. Megan Keeling knocked down consecutive 3s halfway through the fourth quarter, and then Rachel Anderson finished a layup to get the Rockets to within single digits all within 45 seconds.

Stevenson hit a jumper of its own, and soon figured out that the clock was in the Bulldogs’ favor.

“It’s huge when you hit a 3, but then when you give up a 3, then it’s for no reason,” Karnofski said. “We have to go shut them down. That transition to shut down, that’s something we need to work on better as a team. That comes with playing time, just knowing each other on the floor. So I’m extremely proud of them. They played hard and there’s nothing to be disappointed about, except for the scoreboard.”

The Rockets are 5-7 overall and sit at 0-3 in the Trico 1A. The league has been competitive this year, and the Rockets aren’t counting themselves out. So a home matchup against La Center and a road tilt versus Seton Catholic is being welcomed.

“Any given night, anyone can win,” Karnofski said. “I’m looking forward to next week because we have two more opponents. We just have to lace them up and come out again. I know these kids will respond, that’s just how these kids are.”

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Sports Reporter

Jason is a journeyman sports reporter who has covered the Golden State Warriors, Oakland A's, along with a heavy emphasis on the Oakland Raiders. He comes to Cowlitz County from Oakland, Calif. and is a loving father.

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