- Val T.
Leasure scores 1,000th career point, but Zebras lose by 21 to Plymouth
First Rochester player to reach 1,000 since Grimm Jr. in 2009
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
It was a fallaway jumper from 12 feet in the lane. It was a shot that Rochester senior boys basketball player Paul Leasure said he has practiced a million times.
But it was under circumstances he would have never imagined.
On one hand, he got to his 1,000th career point welcomed and warmly appreciated by his second high school after playing two years for his first, which just happens to be Rochester’s archrival.
Then again, his friend and former Tippecanoe Valley teammate Brendyn Stump, who was killed in a May 2021 car accident, was not there to appreciate it.
So there was an emotional void deeper than a 68-47 loss could convey to visiting Plymouth Tuesday in the teams’ first meeting since 2015.
Kadyn Ellery, Plymouth’s 6-5 sophomore shooting guard, scored a game-high 24 points. Reserve guard Preston Wolfe hit five 3-pointers and added 17, and Easton Strain had 14.
Plymouth (8-10) started the second quarter with a 14-0 run to take a 23-14 lead and commanded the game from there. They led by as many as 25 points in the fourth quarter.
Brock Bowers led Rochester (9-7) with 15 points. Leasure came in needing four for 1,000, and he finished with six.
“It just feels like a lot of hard work and dedication finally paid off, you know,” Leasure said.
Leasure said he was unsure how Rochester fans would treat him after he moved from Valley in the summer of 2021. He said the most emotional game of his career was the first home game of his junior year against Winamac on Dec. 3, 2021. He said this ranked second.
Leasure scored 508 points in two years at Valley from 2019-21. He has 494 since coming to Rochester.
“Just after Brendyn and the whole car accident and everything, that was the most emotional game I’ve had in my career, just remembering him,” Leasure said. “He just meant a lot. He was one of my best friends at Valley. I know that when I was planning on moving that he was one of the few people at Valley that was still behind me 100%. He meant a lot to me.”
Leasure is the first Rochester player to reach 1,000 career points since Bruce Grimm Jr. in his Mr. Basketball runner-up season of 2008-09. He thinks fondly of his time at his new school. Grimm, like Leasure, started at a different school and later transferred to Rochester.
“Oh, it’s great,” Leasure said. “I love everybody here. I feel like here, I can get along with everybody from all groups and everything like that.”
Plymouth coach Joel Grindle said it was “long overdue” for his team and Rochester to start playing each other again.
Grindle was especially familiar with Leasure. He was an assistant principal at Valley when Leasure was a student there, so he knows Leasure better than most opposing coaches. He left administration and got back into coaching when he took the Plymouth job prior to the 2021-22 season.
“I know Paul very well,” Grindle said. “He’s a great kid and very deserving. It’s been to follow and track him as we go. So again, he’s a kid who’s had a great high school career, and you’re happy to see those things as a kid that you knew when he was younger. We developed a pretty good relationship in the lunchroom at Tippecanoe Valley where we’d talk, always talking about basketball and always talking how things were going.
“To be able to witness, we’d prefer it be against somebody else, but it was great to witness it.”
Rochester coach Rob Malchow said his team struggled against Plymouth’s length and athleticism.
“The first quarter was really good, exactly what we wanted to do,” Malchow said. “They turned the pressure up a little bit in the second quarter. … It’s just like we said. When we go against teams that have length, we really have trouble scoring. Our low post game isn’t very good. We’ve got to hit midrange jumpers to compete unless we’re playing a team smaller than us or less athletic.”
Malchow said Leasure was “tight” in the first quarter as he neared the milestone. Now that it’s in the past, he’s hopeful that Leasure will loosen up.
“From that standpoint, it was good to see him get that behind him, so he can relax and just play,” Malchow said.
In the JV game, the Zebras got 19 points from Drew Bowers in a 41-30 win. Owen Prater had six, Carson Paulik had five, Davis Renie and Bryce Baugher had three each, Hunter Honkomp and Jonas Kiser had two each, and Xavier Vance had one.
Plymouth 68, Rochester 47
PLYMOUTH (68) (8-10)
Trey Hall 2 0-0 5, Kadyn Ellery 11 1-2 24, Davis Wray 1 0-1 2, Easton Strain 5 4-5 14, Michael Sheely 2 0-0 4, Preston Wolfe 6 0-0 17, Coby Walters 0 0-0 0, Trey Delp 1 0-0 2, Caleb Bowling 0 0-0 0, Jonah Smith 0 0-0 0, Dan Nguyen 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 28 5-8 68
ROCHESTER (47) (9-7)
Paul Leasure 3 0-0 6, Aidan Smith 3 1-2 9, Brock Bowers 6 0-0 15, Tanner Reinartz 0 0-0 0, Luke Hunting 3 0-0 6, Drew Bowers 1 0-0 3, Ethan Medina 1 0-0 3, Owen Prater 0 0-0 0, Bryce Baugher 1 0-0 3, Xavier Vance 1 0-1 2
TEAM: 19 1-3 47
Three-point field goals:
Plymouth 7 (Wolfe 5, Ellery, Hall),
Rochester 8 (B. Bowers 3, Smith 2, Medina, Baugher, D. Bowers)
Total fouls: Plymouth 7, Rochester 7
Turnovers: Plymouth 7, Rochester 11
Score by quarters
Plymouth 9 24 18 17 – 68
Rochester 14 10 8 15 – 47
JV: Rochester 41, Plymouth 30
Rochester senior guard Paul Leasure scored his 1,000th career point on a fallaway jumper in the second quarter of a 68-47 loss to Plymouth at the RHS gym on Feb. 7. The game was briefly stopped to recognize the accomplishment. Leasure scored 508 points at Tippecanoe Valley from 2019-21 and 494 since becoming a Zebra in the 2021-22 season.