Leasure, Cumberland score in double figures, but Vikes lose to Rochester for first time since 2017
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
A game with an unnatural atmosphere had an anticlimactic ending.
The annual boys basketball game between Rochester and Tippecanoe Valley is often raucous with blaring pep bands and full-throated student sections.
It’s a one-game season within a larger season.
The coronavirus pandemic dampened that atmosphere this year. The drama deserved a big crowd. Instead, it got a collective holding of a breath that was already hushed.
Valley had the ball down 49-46 with 12.1 seconds left after a shocking Zebra turnover on an inbounds play. They had no timeouts.
Who was going to shoot the potential game-tying 3-pointer?
From Rochester’s standpoint, coach Rob Malchow’s reminded his players of one of his credos: A shooter with no conscience is not worried about missing. So get out on them tight.
As it turned out, the game-tying 3-pointer was never attempted.
Valley’s Paul Leasure passed out of a double-team to Nolan Cumberland, who drove to the foul line and missed an off-balance 2-pointer. Quin Stesiak rebounded and then passed to Grant McCarter, who hit two clinching free throws with 1.7 seconds left.
Rochester hung on to win 51-46 to earn their first win over Valley since 2017.
Stesiak led Rochester with 16 points, which also tied a season high. McCarter scored eight of his 14 in the fourth quarter, including two crucial 3-pointers against Valley’s 1-3-1 zone trap. Kyle Reinartz added 10.
Leasure led Valley with 11 points. Fellow sophomore Cumberland had 10, Brendyn Stump had nine, and Braden Shepherd had eight.
Rochester improved to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in the Three Rivers Conference. Valley fell to 2-9, 0-4.
“This is our first time beating them in my four years here, so it feels pretty good,” Stesiak said.
Shooting a 2-pointer down three was inexplicable, according to Valley coach Chad Patrick.
“No idea,” Patrick said. “We’re young and dumb. That’s kind of what we do at times. It’s frustrating. I don’t have any reasons. As soon as he shot it, he knew. But that’s what we do a lot of times: Several times tonight after timeouts and quarters, we told them a play to run or a defense, and we forgot. We walked across the court and just forget. We’ve been working on a lot of things. We do well in practice, and we get in the game, and we just spazz out at times.”
McCarter’s first big trey helped stretch the lead out to 43-39 after a Trenton Reinholt assist out of the left corner.
D.J. Estep’s layup on an inbounds play cut the lead back to two, but RHS attacked the Valley 1-3-1 again. They angled the pass across center court away from the long arms of 6-7 Dawson Perkins on top of the zone, getting the ball to Stesiak in the middle of the floor, who then kicked it back to the right to their Friday night nightmare – McCarter, wide open, feet set, behind the arc.
Swish. Rochester was back up 46-41.
“We worked on it a ton because we know that’s kind of their history,” Malchow said of Valley’s 1-3-1. “But it’s different when they’ve got a 6-7 guy (Perkins) on top of it than anything we can try to create. … We were hills and valleys. It cost us a couple times, and yet then we moved the ball well and got Grant a 3 and broke their backs. They would have stayed in it until the end of the game if it was as effective as they wanted it to be, yet it was effective enough to take it from an eight-point lead down to a two-point lead.
“But then we answered it finally. We called that timeout and talked about how we wanted to twist it in terms of how we move the ball and try to get it inside out to Grant. When we did, he knocked down a 3 and we were on our way.”
Stesiak hit a free throw. Perkins put back a Stump trey try that was partially blocked, but Stesiak hit two more free throws.
“We weren’t really panicked,” Stesiak said of the fourth quarter. “I mean, we’ve been doing this. We’ve been preparing for this. We’ve had it happen in a couple games, so we’ve kind of learned from that. So tonight we fixed it and came out with the win.”
Stump then answered with a 3-pointer that circled the rim, bounced off the backboard and hung on the rim before falling. It was 49-46.
Reinholt’s inbounds pass roped McCarter in a trap along the baseline with two Valley defenders hovering. McCarter tried to save it, but the ball squirted out of bounds. Valley had the ball with a chance to tie it.
“We just wanted them to get out (on their shooters),” Malchow said. “When I did call a timeout, it was when one of our guys got sucked in and should have been standing out. Like I told them, at the end of quarters and at the end of games when it’s close, everybody becomes a better shooter because they don’t have a conscience now. And that’s what I told them: I said I don’t care who’s shooting in that situation, you’ve got to get out on them.”
Rochester never trailed, but a 40-27 lead they had after three quarters was trimmed to one thanks to a 12-0 Valley run to start the fourth quarter. Leasure and Cumberland had five points each during the run, and when Cumberland buried a 3-pointer from the left wing with 3:53 left, the lead was down to 40-39.
“I thought we played hard for one quarter tonight,” Patrick said. “I thought we got outhustled to every loose ball tonight. And that showed up on the rebounds. We got doubled up on the rebounds, 33-17. And you just can’t win games doing that. Rochester hustles. They play hard. And we didn’t match that intensity until the fourth quarter, and we still almost won.”
Rochester led 15-10 after one quarter. Sophomore point guard Tarick McGlothin hit 3-pointers on the first and last possessions of the quarter, which helped offset treys from Shepherd and Stump.
RHS led 26-19 with 2:41 left in the half on two Reinartz free throws, but Stump hit a 3 from the left of the key.
McGlothin hit two free throws with 4.3 seconds left to extend the halftime lead to six.
The Rochester defense that came in No. 1 in the state in scoring average held Valley to five points in the third quarter and scoreless over the final 3:47. The Zebras finished the quarter on a 7-0 run with Aidan Smith hitting a free throw, Reinartz hitting a short banker, Reinholt hitting a nifty floater in the lane, and Stesiak scoring on a spin move with three seconds left.
The lead was 13, but then Patrick called on the 1-3-1 trap.
Valley took the JV game 59-28. Riley Shepherd had 18 points, Damion Kohler had 12, Landon Walters had seven, Cooper Walls had six, Dominick Welk had six, Kyler Johnson had four, and Landon Durkes, Dylan Neese and Trent Marshall had two each.
Dryden Vance led the RHS JV with 13 points. Brock Bowers had seven, Luke Hunting had four, Robert Bozzo had two, and Aaron Huffman had two.
Rochester had lost four of their previous five meetings at home to Valley. That includes conference and holiday tournament games.
Patrick said junior Rex Kirchenstien would likely miss at least two weeks with an ankle injury suffered in the first half against Whitko Wednesday.
Stesiak was back in the lineup wearing a sleeve over his left knee. He had to be helped off the court six days earlier at Oregon-Davis but said he was feeling better by the time he got to the locker room.
Peru (5-0), Rochester (3-0) and Manchester (2-0) are the three remaining unbeatens in the TRC. Manchester hosts Southwood Tuesday and Rochester Friday. The Zebras have a nonconference game at Caston Tuesday before heading to Manchester.
Rochester 51, Tippecanoe Valley 46
TIPPECANOE VALLEY (46) (2-9, 0-3)
Braden Shepherd 3 1-2 8, Paul Leasure 5 0-0 11, D.J. Estep 1 0-0 2, Nolan Cumberland 2 4-4 10, Dawson Perkins 3 0-0 6, Cooper Walls 0 0-0 0, Landon Walters 0 0-0 0, Brendyn Stump 3 0-0 9, Chase Miller 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 17 5-6 46
ROCHESTER (51) (7-1, 3-0)
Grant McCarter 4 2-2 14, Tarick McGlothin 2 2-2 8, Aidan Smith 0 1-2 1, Quin Stesiak 6 3-4 16, Kyle Reinartz 4 2-2 10, Trenton Reinholt 1 0-0 2, Blake Hughes 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 17 10-12 51
Three-point field goals:
Valley 7 (Stump 3, Cumberland 2, Leasure, Shepherd),
Rochester 7 (McCarter 4, McGlothin 2, Stesiak)
Total fouls: Valley 13, Rochester 7
Turnovers: Valley 6, Rochester 14
Score by quarters
Valley 10 12 5 19 – 46
Rochester 15 13 12 11 – 51
JV: Valley 59, Rochester 28