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  • Val T.

Prater scores career-high 23, but Wabash hangs on to beat Zebras

Bowers adds 17, Reinartz gets double-double, but Rochester drops 3rd straight


Sports Editor, RTC

Owen Prater

Rochester boys basketball coach Rob Malchow wanted to be “vanilla” with his game defensive game plan against visiting Wabash at the RHS gym Friday.

As it turned out, the Apaches played some spicy offense, burying 13 3-pointers and hanging on to beat the Zebras 72-67 after building a 21-point third-quarter lead.

Grant Ford scored seven of his team-high 22 points in the fourth quarter for Wabash, who improved to 14-5 overall and 6-1 in the Three Rivers Conference. Izaak Wright added 19, and Trevor Daughtry added 18.

Wabash committed only six turnovers and made five of six free throws in the final 49 seconds to secure the win.

Owen Prater scored a game and career-high 23 points for Rochester, who lost their third straight game and fell to 8-9, 4-3.

Drew Bowers added 17, and Tanner Reinartz had a double-double with 12 points (all in the second half) and 10 rebounds.

Wabash came in allowing only 46 points per game. Rochester was able to score 67 despite not attempting a free throw.

Malchow’s definition of “vanilla” meant that pressing and trapping were eschewed in favor of more basic man-to-man and zone defenses. Rochester could face Wabash again in Class 2A, Sectional 36, which Lewis Cass will host from Feb. 27-March 2.

Without pressure, Wabash ran a ballet of constant movement and screening with their motion offense to get open shots.

“I hoped we could get it that close by being as vanilla as we were tonight with our defenses,” Rochester coach Rob Malchow said. “So kudos to the guys in the second half and how we executed offensively, which was so much better than the first half. And kudos to the guys in the second half closing out on their shooters and taking some of the rhythm away from them, even though we didn’t switch our defenses until the very last two minutes when we were just trying to keep them from running the clock out.”

The 67 points scored were the most Rochester has scored in a loss since a 73-69 loss to Caston in two overtimes in January 2020. Their only other loss in the last decade in which they scored at least 67 was also a double-overtime game to Tippecanoe Valley in January 2015.

Rochester was coming off a 67-63 loss to Plymouth Tuesday, and that ended a 12-game streak in which they scored at least 60 and won dating back more than two full years. Now it’s happened in back-to-back games.

Rochester faced deficits of 55-34 and 58-37 in the third quarter and still trailed 65-47 after a Ford 3-pointer from the right corner with 6:15 left, but Rochester went on a 14-2 run to cut the deficit to 67-61.

Bowers had two 3-pointers during the run, including a trey from five feet beyond the arc with 1:52 left.

Two Reinartz 3-pointers sandwiched around a Kaden Vogel free throw with 17.9 seconds left got the lead down to three, but Izaak Wright hit two free throws with 16.9 seconds left to complete the scoring.

“I thought offensively we did really well,” Wabash coach Paul Wright said. “I thought in the fourth quarter – and we’ve done this the last couple games – I don’t know if they think we’re trying to take the foot off the gas, but we’re not trying to do that. We’re wanting to keep attacking. Now we want to take good shots. We just passed up some shots there at the end, and Rochester at one time had not missed a shot in the fourth quarter.

“I think our kids handled the change in momentum really well. We hit free throws when we needed to. … We haven’t given up 67 in a long, long time.”

Rochester called a timeout with 5:21 left in the third quarter trailing 46-32 but could not stop the Wabash express. Wright scored on a cut and was fouled and converted the free throw for a 3-point play. Then Dinkins hit a 3 from behind a screen, Ford popped out to the right corner and hit a 3 and then hit a 3 from the left corner.

In four possessions, Wabash had scored 12 points and assumed a 21-point lead.

But Rochester closed the quarter on a 10-2 run as Jack Reffett hit a 3, Jonas Kiser hit a 15-footer, Prater hit a tough runner on the break after a steal, and Prater hit a 27-footer with two seconds left in the quarter to cut the margin to 60-47.

Prater’s previous career high was 21 against North Miami on Dec. 15.

“He felt really good because he felt he had a real mismatch with the guy guarding him tonight,” Malchow said. “He was real comfortable going to the hole, and that was pretty obvious.”

Coach Wright said he mulled a double-team on Prater but instead simply chose to put a different defender on Prater.

“I watched a lot of film, but I didn’t see him post up a lot,” coach Wright said. “So I’m glad we saw it now. We’ve got sectional coming up.”

Rochester was within 21-19 in the second quarter after Bowers threaded the needle on the break to Prater for a layup.

But Izaak Wright hit two 3-pointers, and Dinkins and Daughtry also downed long balls as Wabash extended the lead to 40-28 at halftime.

“They’re not shooters,” Malchow said of Wabash’s big three seniors of Ford, Wright and Daughtry. “They’re makers.”

Rochester won the JV game 44-28.

Wabash 72, Rochester 67

WABASH (72) (14-5, 6-1)

Trevor Daughtry 7 0-0 18, Kaden Vogel 1 3-4 5, Grant Ford 8 1-1 22, Alexander Dinkins 3 0-0 8, Izaak Wright 7 3-3 19, Brayten Eis 0 0-0 0, Elias Mattern 0 0-0 0, DaVon Osborn 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 26 7-8 72

ROCHESTER (67) (8-9, 4-3)

Drew Bowers 7 0-0 17, Owen Prater 11 0-0 23, Tanner Reinartz 5 0-0 12, Carson Paulik 0 0-0 0, Bryce Baugher 0 0-0 0, Dylan Hook 1 0-0 2, Robert Bozzo 1 0-0 3, Jonas Kiser 3 0-0 7, Jack Reffett 1 0-0 3

TEAM: 29 0-0 67

Three-point field goals:

Wabash 13 (Ford 5, Daughtry 4, Wright 2, Dinkins 2),

Rochester 9 (Bowers 3, Reinartz 2, Prater, Kiser, Reffett, Bozzo)

Total fouls: Wabash 8, Rochester 16

Turnovers: Wabash 6, Rochester 9

Score by quarters

Wabash 19 21 20 12 72

Rochester 13 15 19 20 67

JV: Rochester 44, Wabash 28

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