LA CENTER — It was going to take a valiant effort from Castle Rock to take down La Center on Friday night in a 1A TriCo League showdown. The Rockets were without seven varsity players due to protocols and injuries, which forced three freshmen to see significant playing time. Despite numerous missing starters, the Rockets nearly took down the Wildcats before fading and falling 54-47.
Junior Chase Rusher stepped into a much larger role than he’s had to so far this year, and he answered the call with a career-high 16 points.
Trevor Rogen, a freshmen with plenty of varsity experience so far this season, dropped in 12 points as his role expanded as well.
Freshmen Owen Langdon might have seen the biggest increase in his role, and despite just four points, he impressed Castle Rock coach Hayden Tilton with his effort.
“Rogen, Langdon and Rusher were unbelievable tonight…they rose to the occasion,” Tilton said.
Adam Partridge added some sense of consistency in the post for the Rockets with 13 points.
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The Rockets fell behind early as their new rotations took some time getting used to playing together.
The Wildcats took advantage of the inexperience and put up 19 points to the Rockets’ 11.
The Rockets didn’t allow the Wildcats to add to that lead in the second, cutting it down to 30-23 at the break. La Center shook that off in the third to add a few to its lead as the Rockets’ best effort at a comeback fell short.
“This team hasn’t caught any break this last week or so but that doesn’t stop their determination and fight,” Tilton said. “We’re looking to get everyone back by next week or so. I wouldn’t count these Rockets out just yet.
Castle Rock (6-5) was set for a tough non-league matchup against Kalama on Monday at Lower Columbia College in the Martin Luther King Jr. Basketball Tribute, but the Rockets backed out of that date Saturday afternoon.