Over in a second: McCarter’s half-courter, tight Zebra defense lead to win over Winamac
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
WINAMAC –- If an opponent feels like they need to pick up Rochester boys basketball player Grant McCarter as soon as he crosses halfcourt, they might have learned that’s too late.
McCarter hit five 3-pointers and scored a game-high 23 points, carrying the Zebras to a 40-
32 win over host and sectional rival Winamac Tuesday.
Kyle Reinartz added eight points and nine rebounds for RHS, who improved to 4-1.
Russell Compton had 14 to lead Winamac (2-4). Beau Brandt added nine.
Nine of Winamac’s 10 field goals were 3-pointers as the Warriors had to do their work outside the paint.
With the Zebras hanging on to a 35-32 lead and the clock under three minutes, Quin Stesiak found Reinartz for a layup to make it a two-possession game, and McCarter and Blake Hughes combined to make three of four free throws in the final 26 seconds to seal it.
The game continued a trend of McCarter being a Winamac nightmare. He came off the bench to score 16 in a 50-41 Zebra win in a December 2019 regular season win at the RHS gym. Then he drained six 3s and poured in 23 as RHS pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 53-36 win in last year’s sectional.
But the story was the second quarter, when Winamac didn’t score at all. RHS outscored the Warriors 15-0 in that quarter to turn around what had been a 12-4 deficit.
McCarter scored 11 points in that second quarter, including three treys. His first was a 22-footer with a defender in his face from the right wing. The second was a pullup from the right wing that put RHS ahead for good at 14-12 with 2:10 left in the half. His third 3 was a 25-footer from the top of the key that hung on the rim before dropping.
He capped his quarter with an assist to a cutting Aidan Smith for a layup that gave RHS a 19-12 halftime lead.
Meanwhile, RHS switched from two different types of aggressive trapping zones – a 2-3 and a 1-3-1 – and went to a man defense in the second quarter. Rarely did Winamac get a touch in the paint.
“I wanted to be really patient offensively, and I still felt like we forced some shots early in the game in the first quarter,” Winamac coach Alan Huggler said. “But we were lucky enough that they didn’t hurt us. But eventually, we got some inside-out 3s, we hit some shots, and that gave us some confidence. And I thought our defense was pretty good tonight considering that we haven’t worked a whole lot on our man defense. I thought we rotated pretty well (and) helped pretty well. But when you give up 23 points to McCarter – he’s a good player – and maybe we should have focused more on him. I give him credit.”
McCarter outscored the entire Winamac team 8-7 in the third quarter.
Winamac had gotten within 24-19 on a Compton free throw with 2:10 left before RHS closed the quarter on a 7-0 run. Reinartz scored on a putback, and McCarter hit a 15-footer off the dribble, but it was his shot at the end of the quarter that shocked.
He evaded multiple Winamac defenders in the backcourt, got them on his hip and shot a 45-footer from beyond halfcourt at the buzzer.
Swish. Rochester led 31-19.
Still, Winamac got within 35-29 thanks to a pair of Brandt 3s, a Compton transition bucket (Winamac’s lone 2-point goal) and two Compton free throws. When Trent Fox hit a 3 off a Ryan Gregor drive and kick, the lead was down to three.
“It was nice to see,” Huggler said of the 3-point marksmanship. “Coming out of football and a couple quarantines, it’s taken us a little time to get our legs. We do have some guys who can shoot 3s, but we haven’t shot very well until today from the perimeter. So that was nice to see. We’re going to have to be able to do that to beat good teams. Now we also got to get some more buckets inside as well.”
Rochester also won the JV game 40-33. Brock Bowers scored 14, and Dryden Vance added 11 to lead Rochester. Hunter Campbell added five, Luke Hunting and Evan Elliott had four each, and Kaiden Towell had two.
John Malchow led the Winamac JV with eight. Jayse Bentle, Logan Schultz and Chase Keller had five each. Wyatt Wheeler had four, and Sawyer DePoy, Gavin Taylor and Michael Loehmer had two each.
John Malchow is the nephew of Rochester coach Rob Malchow. John Malchow’s father Doug is a 1993 Winamac grad who scored 1,041 career points and played on Winamac’s Midwest Conference title team in 1991.
The Winamac Warriors Basketball Twitter page showed Rob Malchow signing the team’s new Alumni Wall. Rob Malchow, a 1984 Winamac grad, scored 1,128 points in his prep career and helped lead the Warriors to a sectional title as a senior. He already is a member of the school’s athletic hall of fame. Current Winamac athletic director Bill Ball was one of Malchow’s teammates on the 1984 sectional championship team.
This was the first time RHS has played at Winamac since winning the sectional there 10 months ago.
Rochester senior Quin Stesiak, who had been quarantined and then had to participate in a minimum number of practices before regaining his eligibility, played for the first time since a Dec. 4 game against North Judson. He was held scoreless.
Winamac senior Carson Bennett, who came in averaging 11 points per game, was held scoreless. He had scored in double figures in four of Winamac’s first five games.
The sectional is March 2-6 at Delphi.
Rob Malchow was unavailable for comment after the game.
Rochester 40, Winamac 32
ROCHESTER (40) (4-1)
Grant McCarter 7 4-4 23, Tarick McGlothin 1 2-3 4, Quin Stesiak 0 0-1 0, Trenton Reinholt 0 0-0 0, Kyle Reinartz 4 0-0 8, Aaron Huffman 0 0-0 0, Blake Hughes 1 1-2 3, Aidan Smith 1 0-0 2, Reece Renie 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 14 7-10 40
WINAMAC (32) (2-4)
Carson Bennett 0 0-0 0, Russell Compton 4 3-4 14, Trent Fox 2 0-0 6, Matt Swartzell 1 0-2 3, Beau Brandt 3 0-0 9, Ryan Gregor 0 0-0 0, Jaden Terry 0 0-0 0, Alex Stark 0 0-0 0, John Malchow 0 0-0 0, Logan Schultz 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 10 3-6 32
Three-point field goals:
Rochester 5 (McCarter 5),
Winamac 9 (Compton 3, Brandt 3, Fox 2, Swartzell)
Total fouls: Rochester 8, Winamac 16
Turnovers: Rochester 14, Winamac 12
Score by quarters
Rochester 4 15 12 9 – 40
Winamac 12 0 7 13 – 32