• Val T.

‘Buck’-ing the trend: Reinartz scores 19, secures win over Whitko with steal

BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

SOUTH WHITLEY –- Rochester boys basketball coach Rob Malchow nicknamed senior forward Kyle Reinartz “Buck” because he wants him to be the lead deer of the pack.

Reinartz’s presence was appreciated deer-ly against host Whitko Friday, scoring a game-high 19 points and securing the game-clinching steal in the final seconds in the Zebras’ 43-41 win.

Blake Hughes and Tarick McGlothin added seven points each for RHS, who improved to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the Three Rivers Conference.

The win also broke a five-year losing streak to Whitko. Four of those five losses had been by double-digit margins.

Drake Lewis dropped in four 3-pointers and led Whitko (4-3, 0-1) with 17 points.

“His nickname is ‘Buck,’” RHS coach Rob Malchow said of Reinartz. “A couple years ago, I talked about how I didn’t want Bambi on the floor. We needed a buck. Boy, he was a buck tonight. He just went at people. He rebounded, he defended, he was the best player on the floor tonight, and that was neat to see.”

Rochester led 29-23 after three quarters, but when McGlothin and Grant McCarter hit 3-pointers – it was the only field goal for each player – within the first 51 seconds of the fourth quarter, the lead had doubled to 12.

The Zebras still led 41-30 on two McGlothin free throws with 4:20 left when Whitko rallied. Kylar Bryant sunk a 3-pointer, and Dale Reiff hit two free throws. Another Bryant trey from the left wing made it 41-38.

Two McCarter free throws got the lead back to five, but Brett Sickafoose’s 3-point play got the lead back to 43-41 with 1:06 left.

Rochester called timeout with 42.8 seconds left. Whitko trapped McGlothin and got a steal with 27.9 seconds left and called timeout.

Lewis had a look at a 3 but missed, but the rebound went out of bounds off McCarter. Both teams were out of timeouts.

Sickafoose tried a skip pass along the top of the perimeter, but the 6-4 Reinartz reached out and deflected the pass and dribbled down the court. He was able to avoid being fouled when time expired.

The steal brought back an unpleasant two-year-old memory for Reinartz. In a 2019 game against Tippecanoe Valley, Reinartz deflected a pass along the sidelines but was unable to keep it inbounds for a steal. The Zebras wound up losing in overtime.

“It felt good to get that steal knowing that we sealed the game,” Reinartz said. “My sophomore year, during the Valley game, it was home, I remember I had a steal something similar to that – we were doing ‘blitz two’ (defense) – and I think we were up two with 15 seconds left or something close to that. I know we were up, and I knew if I would have gotten that steal, it would have sealed the game. I was thinking tonight when I got the steal that didn’t happen again because that was the worst feeling.”

If Reinartz starred on defense in the fourth quarter, then he starred on offense in the first quarter. He outscored the entire Whitko team 12-11 in the first quarter, and he added four more points in the second quarter as the lead reached 25-18.

Whitko first-year coach Chris Benedict also complimented Reinartz.

“He played very aggressive on the offensive end of the floor, crashing the boards and attacking the basket off the dribble and cutting hard and demanding post position,” Benedict said. “He just played at another level from what our posts did tonight and was able to get the ball in positive situations and capitalize when that happened. So he played a tremendous game.”

Malchow told the team to appreciate what they had accomplished.

“It’s a huge win, a huge win,” Reinartz said. “It was a good win knowing that we beat them on their home court. Malchow even said it doesn’t happen very often. It’s rare that this happens.”

How it happened might have been more surprising than the win itself as a potential shootout between McCarter and Sickafoose didn’t occur. McCarter scored 23 points against Whitko last year but was held to five this time.

Sickafoose, a first-team all-TRC pick last year, scored 31 against Rochester last year, but the Zebras held him to seven.

RHS sophomore Aidan Smith made his first career start, and when RHS was in a man-to-

Aidan Smith

man, Smith had the assignment on Sickafoose. When RHS was in a zone, players were told to constantly communicate with each other to locate Sickafoose.

The defense was not unlike the defense RHS played on Winamac’s Will Larkin in the 2020 sectional semifinals.

“Aidan Smith’s defense was outstanding on him,” Malchow said. “In the second half, Quin played him some of the time and did a great job. Our zone defense was really good in how we talked and rotated out and challenged shooters. … You can go down the line. Blake had that blocked shot, and then they were very tentative about going back down low and trying to kick it out.

“Everybody played a role tonight.”

Rochester 43, Whitko 41

ROCHESTER (43) (5-1, 2-0)

Grant McCarter 1 2-2 5, Tarick McGlothin 1 4-4 7, Aidan Smith 1 0-0 3, Quin Stesiak 1 0-0 2, Kyle Reinartz 8 3-6 19, Trenton Reinholt 0 0-0 0, Blake Hughes 3 1-2 7

TEAM: 15 10-14 43

WHITKO (41) (4-3, 0-1)

Drake Lewis 5 3-4 17, Kylar Bryant 2 0-0 6, Brett Sickafoose 3 1-3 7, Aiden Hoffman 4 0-1 9, Mason Streby 0 0-0 0, Dale Reiff 0 2-2 2, Ryan Brown 0 0-0 0, Andrew Swartz 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 14 6-10 41

Three-point field goals:

Rochester 3 (McGlothin, McCarter, Smith),

Whitko 7 (Lewis 4, Bryant 2, Hoffman)

Total fouls: Rochester 12, Whitko 14

Turnovers: Rochester 15, Whitko 10

Score by quarters

Rochester 14 11 4 14 – 43

Whitko 11 7 5 18 – 41


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