COLUMBIA — Rock Bridge freshman basketball player Travis Jorgenson wasn’t even thinking about starting.
He was just happy he had earned his spot on the varsity team. He was the only freshman that got to suit up for the team's season-opener Saturday at the Norm Stewart Classic against Moberly. He knew was going to play, he just didn’t know for how long, until his coach, Jim Scanlon, approached him before the game and told him he would be on the court for the opening tipoff.
Jorgenson didn’t miss a beat. He watched the seniors to see what he should be doing before the game. He lined up in front of the Bruins’ bench and waited for the announcer to introduce the players. His name was called last.
“I was nervous,” Jorgenson said, “I was just going to be happy if I made varsity, but it was pretty cool.”
He said he shook the jitters right after his introduction. Just 15 seconds into the game, he pump faked, took a step back and nailed a 3-pointer on his first shot attempt on the Bruins' varsity.
Jorgenson breezed to 16 points and six assists before leaving the game during the third quarter in a blowout victory.
Jorgenson stepped up when the Bruins needed it the most. In a perfect scenario for Rock Bridge, he would be providing a spark off the bench. That all changed when regular point guard junior Justin Miller was diagnosed with a stress fracture in the ball of his right foot during the offseason. With Miller expected to be out until at least Christmas, the Bruins are going to lean on Jorgenson to keep playing at a high level.
Scanlon said he wasn’t surprised with Jorgenson’s success in his debut.
“I knew he was going to do that,” Scanlon said. “Overall I feel very comfortable with him in the game, but the biggest thing is that I’m confident with him with the basketball. I don’t care that he’s a ninth grader. That doesn’t bother me at all.”
Miller said that he is only going to return the Bruins’ lineup once he feels he is 100 percent, which he hopes is around Christmas. He said that having a player like Jorgenson in the lineup while he is on the bench makes him feel more comfortable.
“He plays like he’s already a senior,” Miller said. “He’s solid. He handles the ball well and has great court vision. I think he’s done a great job filling in for me.”
Scanlon said he always had an idea Jorgenson was going to end up in the lineup. He worked as hard, sometimes even harder than anybody else on the team. When the work ethic is complemented by talent like Jorgenson’s, Scanlon said the young player was hard to ignore.
“Travis has a commitment and dedication to the game, and it shows,” Scanlon said. “He works. He’s one of our best workers, if not our best worker, as a ninth grader, and I think we’d be struggling with our guards right now if he wasn’t around. He earned it (the starting spot). I didn’t give it to him. He’s a very talented basketball player.”
Senior guard Ricky Kreklow, a Missouri recruit, isn’t concerned about putting too much pressure on Jorgenson. He said, so far, Jorgenson has done everything that is expected of a starting guard, freshman or not.
“He’s just played extremely well,” Kreklow said. “He’s doing everything he can. He’s playing his role, and he’s not really making any of those freshman mistakes that people say. The team has just been really impressed with him.”
Jorgenson said he knows the spot in the lineup belongs to Miller when he returns, but said he wants to learn as much as possible from him. Jorgenson said he knows that Miller can help him during the season.
“I know if I ask anything to do with being a point guard,” he said. “He can help me out with that.”