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Leasure-ly pace: Rochester guard scores 30 in come-from-behind win over Wabash

Hits game-winning shot with 28 seconds left; Zebras thwart 2 Apache chances in final 10 seconds


Sports Editor, RTC

Paul Leasure

WABASH — Rochester boys basketball coach Rob Malchow told his team he wanted to see them respond to adversity against host Wabash at Coolman Gymnasium Friday.

His team took the lesson to heart and pulled off maybe its most impressive come-from-behind win of the season.

Paul Leasure scored a game-high 30 points, including an off-balance 17-footer with 28 seconds left, to give the Zebras a 62-61 win.

Tanner Reinartz added nine points and seven rebounds for Rochester, who improved to 10-7 overall and 4-3 in the Three Rivers Conference.

Izaak Wright hit six 3-pointers and scored 23 points to lead Wabash (13-6, 3-4). Trevor Daughtry added 18, and Grant Ford had 17.

“I never put a thing on the board,” Malchow said, describing his pregame talk to the team. “I put one word, and it was ‘adversity.’ And I said we have had several games in the last three weeks – (Tippecanoe) Valley, Plymouth, Southwood – good teams, and when adversity hit during the game, we folded. We didn’t compete through it and find a way. So I just told them tonight it doesn’t matter what offense we ask you to run, what defense we ask you to run…. If you don’t fight together through the adversity of every game against good teams, then we’re going to lose by 20. But if you guys will play like men, have each others’ backs, take out the emotion, compete.

“Whatever occurs in the game … that can’t bother you. You have got to play through it and find a way. Don’t self-doubt. Don't point fingers. Come together like men and play together the entire game, and for 32 minutes, I told them that was probably as much fun coaching as I’ve had since the 2021 sectional final (against Lewis Cass) because they played so well together.”

Rochester beat Wabash for the third straight year and for the seventh time in the last nine years.

They trailed 33-18 at one point in the second quarter and trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half. They still trailed 61-58 on a runner in the lane from Daughtry with 1:18 left.

Leasure countered with two free throws at the 1:06 mark.

The next Wabash possession ended with a Luke Hunting steal after Daughtry tried to dribble through traffic.

That set up Leasure. Rochester coach Rob Malchow called for a 1-4 low set: Leasure was on the top of the key with Daughtry guarding him and the other four players on the baseline occupying four Wabash defenders. Leasure dribbled to the left and hit an off-balance shot fading left to give Rochester the lead.

Wabash had two chances to get the lead back.

The first ended with Ford missing a left baseline 12-footer, and Hunting rebounded.

Hunting would later be fouled with 5.7 seconds left and miss the front end of a one-and-one. That led to Wabash’s second chance to win the game, but Daughtry raced upcourt but missed an off-balance 25-footer, and Reinartz rebounded as time expired as his Zebra teammates celebrated at midcourt.

Reinartz helped with two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter in addition to his rebounding. Malchow said he did extra drill work with Reinartz in practices to make his shot smoother.

“Getting my form back,” Reinartz said. “I’ve changed up a bunch of mechanics and finally got it back.”

Wabash hit 11 3-pointers. They jumped out to a 12-3 lead thanks to three triples from the smooth-shooting Wright and a 3 from Ford. Daughtry later added two treys in the quarter as the lead reached 22-11.

Rochester got the lead down to 24-18 on a Leasure driving layup and a Hunting 3-pointer, but Wabash answered with a 9-0 run on 3-pointers from Collin Price and Wright, a Daughtry free throw and a Ford runner in the lane to make it a 15-point lead.

Leasure hit a pullup jumper and a 13-footer off the dribble, and Hunting hit a pullup in the lane to cut the margin to 33-24 at halftime.

Wright and Daughtry each hit a 3 in the first three-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter, and Daughtry dropped in two free throws with 4:14 left to make it 45-31.

Then Leasure got hot, scoring the next nine Rochester points. He hit a 3-pointer from the right of the key and a pullup in the lane. Then he hit another 15-footer to cap a personal 7-0 run. He later added two free throws.

“A majority of the time, yes” Reinartz said when asked if Leasure does that in practice. “He’s insane.”

An Owen Prater short jumper after Brock Bowers found him on a dive cut from the top of the key and a Prater 3-pointer cut the lead to 50-45.

They would get within 51-48 on a Reinartz 3 to start the fourth quarter and 54-52 on an Aidan Smith layup off a Leasure assist and 54-53 on a Hunting free throw.

Ford hit two free throws with 2:45 left, but Reinartz tied the game with another 3.

Ford gave Wabash the lead again at 58-56 on a driving banker, and Daughtry split a pair of free throws with 1:45 left.

Leasure hit a turnaround in the lane before Daughtry answered with a drive from the right perimeter that he kissed off the glass.

“We’ve had a hard time guarding him for four years when he was at Valley and (now) at Rochester,” Wabash coach Paul Wright said of Leasure. “He just has that little 10-to-15-foot midrange game. He can fade away and knock them down, and he hits free throws. … He killed us last year, he killed us this year, and he could possibly kill us in the sectional, so we have to figure something out by then.”

Rochester also won the JV game 62-55 in two overtimes. Drew Bowers led Rochester with 22 points, including nine of their 10 points in the second overtime. Bryce Baugher added nine, Jonas Kiser had eight, Hunter Honkomp had seven, Carson Paulik and Jack Reffett had five each, Owen Prater had four, and Grant Clark had two.

In other TRC action Friday, Tippecanoe Valley routed North Miami 86-39 and Manchester beat Peru 54-51 to hand the Tigers their first conference loss. With those results, Valley clinched a share of the TRC title at 8-1. Peru and Manchester are 6-1, and both will have a chance to catch the Vikings.

Rochester 62, Wabash 61

ROCHESTER (62) (10-7, 4-3)

Paul Leasure 12 4-4 30, Aidan Smith 3 0-0 7, Brock Bowers 1 2-4 4, Tanner Reinartz 3 0-0 9, Luke Hunting 3 0-1 7, Drew Bowers 0 0-0 0, Ethan Medina 0 0-0 0, Owen Prater 2 0-0 5

TEAM: 24 6-9 62

WABASH (61) (13-6, 3-4)

Trevor Daughtry 5 5-9 18, Kaden Vogel 0 0-0 0, Antonio Grant 0 0-0 0, Grant Ford 7 2-2 17, Izaak Wright 8 1-2 23, David Ford 0 0-0 0, Collin Price 1 0-0 3

TEAM: 21 8-13 61

Three-point field goals:

Rochester 8 (Reinartz 3, Leasure 2, Smith, Hunting, Prater),

Wabash 11 (Wright 6, Daughtry 3, G. Ford, Price)

Total fouls: Rochester 15, Wabash 9

Turnovers: Rochester 12, Wabash 10

Score by quarters

Rochester 11 13 21 17 – 62

Wabash 22 11 18 10 – 61

JV: Rochester 62, Wabash 55 (2 OT)

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