Hayden Tilton didn’t mind one bit wearing a dress suit soaked in water.
It was for good reason after Saturday’s 46-43 victory by Castle Rock over King’s Way Christian in the teams’ 1A District IV boys semifinal game.
The Rockets celebrated in their lockerroom at King’s Way Christian High School dousing their coach after a program-defining victory under the fourth-year head coach.
“I’m not a cold-weather guy,” Tilton said, “but I don’t mind shivering a bit right now because these guys absolutely earned it. And what a fun moment for us.”
Castle Rock (13-7 overall) not only clinched a 1A state regional berth, but also advances to the 1A District IV title game against Eatonville. The Cruisers topped Seton Catholic, 47-43, in their semifinal Saturday.
While it might be a surprise for some to see new faces playing for the 1A district title, it’s not for the Rockets, Tilton said. In fact, it’s been a work in progress in recent years.
And that’s come with a few bumps. During last year’s COVID-19 condensed spring season, the Rockets filled their varsity roster with a number of eighth graders.
Saturday, one of those now-ninth graders — Trevor Rogen — made perhaps the biggest defensive play of the game. With Castle Rock’s lead at 44-41 inside 10 seconds left, Rogen, a guard, stole the King’s Way in-bounds pass near mid-court and dribbled more time off the clock. By the time teammate Trystin Marin (14 points) was fouled and hit two free throws, Castle Rock’s lead was 46-41 with 4.1 seconds to play.
Hot outside shooting helped King’s Way close a six-point deficit and took a 39-38 lead on consecutive 3s by Giovanny Evanson (17 points), but never regained the lead after Castle Rock opened the fourth quarter with a 31-31 advantage. In all, the Knights were 7 of 28 from 3-point range.
Castle Rock and King’s Way split their regular-season meetings, including a 43-42 King’s Way home win courtesy of a buzzer-beater by the Knights. Castle Rock knows the feeling of close games, either going into overtime or being part of down-to-the-wire regulation finishes a handful of times this season.
That’s why there was no underdog mentality Saturday, Tilton said.
“We said, ‘They have to come beat us’ and that’s what our guys believed in,” the coach said. “And it came true.”
Senior post Adam Partridge had a game-high 18 points, including 13 in the first half helping the Rockets to a 26-19 advantage.
In order to clinch a seventh consecutive regional berth, King’s Way will now go through the loser’s bracket. They face Montesano, a 55-42 winner over La Center, on Wednesday. The Knights must win two games to earn a regional berth.
CASTLE ROCK 46, KING’S WAY CHRISTIAN 43
CASTLE ROCK: Tristin Marin 14, Trevor Rogen 0, Chance Naugle 1, Lane Partridge 6, Landon Gardner 6, Adam Partridge 18. Totals 18 (2) 8-12 46.
KING’S WAY CHRISTIAN: Jamison Duke 4, Giovanny Evanson 17, Ryan Tyler 2, Alex Fulton 17, Matthew Belefski 0, Will Gunn 3. Totals 16 (7) 4-6 43.
CR 9 17 5 15 – 46
KW 17 8 13 9 – 43