Columbia High’s varsity boys basketball team lost its fifth SWW 1A Trico Division game in a row here last Friday, 61-43, to Castle Rock.
Carlos Mendoza scored 18 points and Mark Lovrin had 14 for the Bruins, who fell to 1-5 in Trico play and 7-9 overall under first-year coach Jason Suess.
Castle Rock (5-1, 11-4) scored the game’s first basket and seized the lead for good at 6-4 on a pair of free throws by Sam Reebs with 4:04 gone in the opening quarter.
When the quarter ended, Castle Rock held a 16-7 advantage thanks to the scoring of Reebs (6 points) and Zach Gehring (8).
Gehring scored another eight in the second quarter as the Rockets—with a 7-2 closing run—pulled ahead, 33-22, by halftime.
Columbia made a serious run at Castle Rock in the third quarter, however, behind a strong defensive effort and the scoring of Lovrin and Mendoza.
With Lovrin netting nine points and Mendoza putting in six, the Bruins cut the deficit from 15 points (39-24) to single digits (45-39) at the end of the period.
The combination that made it a six-point game on the last play of the third quarter—Lovrin to Enrique Granados—made it a four-point game on the first play of the fourth.
But that was as good as it got for Columbia as Castle Rock, which went into a delay offense with just under six minutes remaining in the game, reeled off 13 straight points to build a commanding 58-41 lead with 1:44 to go.
For Castle Rock, Gehring finished with a game-high 23 points, Dustin Hamilton and Kyle Karnofski each netted 10, and Reebs tallied eight.
Ilwaco stunned the Trico world last Friday by knocking off Stevenson, 55-35, in Ilwaco. The loss dropped Stevenson (5-1, 11-4) into a first-place tie with Castle Rock.
Entering the last two weeks and four games of the regular season, Stevenson and Castle Rock lead third-place Kalama (4-2, 11-4) by one game in the standings.
Ilwaco (3-3, 10-6) is fourth—two games behind the co-leaders—but still in the running for the division’s three automatic Southwest District Class 1A tournament berths. Columbia, too, is still in the hunt, though the Bruins likely will have to win out to have a shot at moving up.
If the season were to end today, though, Stevenson would be the Trico’s No. 1 seed, Castle Rock would be No. 2 (because its one loss was to Stevenson) and Kalama would be No. 3.
Ilwaco, at No. 4, would play off against the SWW 1A Evergreen Division’s fifth-place team for the lone at-large berth in the eight-team district tourney.