Quin for the win: Senior’s go-ahead 3-pointer as part of 4-point play sends Zebras back to regional
Rossville vs. Rochester, 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Lapel
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
DELPHI –- A dream delayed is not a dream denied.
Not for the Rochester boys basketball team.
After winning the 2020 sectional title and then having the rest of the state tournament canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Zebras started over and did it again in the Class 2A, Sectional 37 final at Delphi Saturday.
Led by Quin Stesiak’s game-high 20 points, which included the go-ahead 3-pointer as part of a 4-point play with 2:36 left, and the career-high 19 points from Tarick McGlothin, Rochester edged Lewis Cass 53-50 in an emotionally churning thriller to avenge their only regular season loss and win their second straight sectional title.
One year later, Rochester is headed back to regional.
“On the way to the game tonight, I was just thinking I don’t pray for wins, but there was a part of me that I was like, ‘It’d be nice if these guys could experience what they should have experienced a year ago,’” Rochester coach Rob Malchow said. “I just really wanted these seniors because they earned it, and last year’s seniors I wish could’ve. … Win or lose in the regional, it’s a neat experience you can live with for the rest of your life.”
Said senior forward Kyle Reinartz: “It feels just as good as last year. Awesome.”
“Feels good,” senior guard Grant McCarter said. “It feels better the second time honestly.”
Said senior center Blake Hughes: “Awesome. That’s two times in a row.”
Sectional champions for a 34th time in school history, No. 10 Rochester will next play Rossville in a Lapel regional semifinal at 12:30 p.m. this Saturday. No. 8 Blackford will play Wapahani in the first semifinal at 10 a.m., and the winners return at 8 p.m. in the final.
Tyson Good scored 13 points to lead Lewis Cass. Nolan Young hit four 3-pointers and added 12, and Tyson Johnson had 10.
Rochester improved to 18-1. Lewis Cass finished 13-12. Neither the Zebras nor Kings led by more than six points.
Lewis Cass went on a 12-2 run covering the third and fourth quarters and gained their largest lead at 41-36 on two Tyson Johnson free throws with 5:46 left.
But the Zebras, who outscored their previous five opponents by a combined 50 points in the fourth quarter, went on their most significant fourth-quarter run yet – a 14-3 burst that saved their season.
McGlothin hit a 3-pointer to start the run. Blake Hughes hit two free throws to tie the game at the 4:25 mark. They never trailed again.
A Stesiak 3-pointer from the left wing off a McGlothin assist made it an 8-0 run and gave Rochester a 44-41 lead.
The Zebras didn’t make any 3-pointers in a 52-35 semifinal win over North Newton Friday. They made nine 3s against Lewis Cass.
“I just felt like we’d save them,” Malchow cracked afterwards. “We just executed in a way yesterday where let’s save them. Even at practice today, I said don’t make them. Let’s save them for tonight. … Just put them in the bank, and we made a withdrawal.”
Lewis Cass reserve guard Robert Fitch III then buried a game-tying 3-pointer with 2:45 left. It was Fitch’s only basket of the entire sectional.
Then Stesiak stepped up again. Lining up behind a Reinartz screen from the left corner, he hit his fifth 3-pointer of the night after a McGlothin drive and kick.
The whistle blew. Lewis Cass’s Carson Vest was called for a foul for plowing over Reinartz’s screen. It was the seventh team foul on Lewis Cass.
Stesiak’s 3-pointer counted, and Reinartz headed to the foul line for a one-and-one. He made the first free throw but missed the second. The rebound squirted free.
Stesiak fell on it, and Malchow signaled for a timeout. Rochester led 48-44.
“The thing about Quin is that he’s a gamer,” Malchow said. “Every now and then, I’ll pull my hair out and want to kick his rear end in practice because he’s going through the motions, but when the lights are on and it matters, he’s usually there. And he played really well. He played the way he had to play tonight.”
Reinartz said Lewis Cass was “a lot” more physical than the Zebras.
“They push us around some times, but we find a way,” Reinartz said. “They’re stronger than us, and that’s what makes it harder for us.”
At this point, McGlothin had shed any high ball screen help that he had received earlier in the game. Malchow now believed that McGlothin could beat his defender one-on-one.
That’s what he did. The 5-9 sophomore floor general drove past his defender and into the paint. He avoided a King defender attempting to draw a charging foul and dropped in a short banker.
Rochester had their biggest lead at 50-44.
McGlothin watched last year’s sectional final win over Rensselaer from the bench.
“It feels amazing,” McGlothin said. “I was speechless after the game. Speechless. … I wanted to be on the floor with those seniors.”
Malchow said Lewis Cass didn’t really have anybody that could contain McGlothin.
“All summer … I knew what we had, but what I didn’t know is what we didn’t have,” Malchow said. “I knew point guard might be a problem. Well, Tarick fixed that. He took us to a different level.”
Good drove from the high post and scored and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but Hughes missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1:20 left.
Tristin Miller found Good for a layup with 47.5 seconds left after an offensive rebound to cut the lead to two.
McCarter’s free throws with 21.3 seconds left made it a two-possession game.
“The one 3-pointer I made gave me confidence for those free throws,” McCarter said.
And after another defensive stop, Stesiak split a pair of free throws with 8.1 seconds left to give Rochester a 53-48 lead.
A Good tip-in at the buzzer completed the scoring, but the celebration was on at halfcourt.
… They’re very physical. They’re going to push you around. They’re going to dive after loose balls. They just going to play strong and physical, and if you don’t match them, then they’re just going to run you out of the gym.”
Perhaps typical of a sectional final, the first half featured nine lead changes. Young hit two early treys to give Lewis Cass a 6-3 lead, but Stesiak and McGlothin hit 3s on consecutive possessions to put RHS ahead 11-8.
Lewis Cass pulled ahead 12-11 after a Johnson reverse layup with 37 seconds left in the quarter.
McCarter’s first points came on a 3-pointer with 5:39 left in the half to give Rochester a 16-14 lead.
Good, Lewis Cass’ sophomore shooting guard, then scored the next seven Lewis Cass points, including a 3-pointer and a steal and dunk on the break, to make it 21-18.
But McGlothin quickly found Reinartz for a bunny, and when McCarter found Stesiak on an inbounds play for another layup, Rochester led 22-21.
Young’s third trey of the half put Lewis Cass on top, but two McGlothin free throws with 1:08 left tied the game at 24 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Rochester inched ahead at 29-26 on a Stesiak 3, but Johnson scored on a back cut. McGlothin hit two free throws before Tristin Miller, wearing a protective mask after being gashed above the eye against Winamac Tuesday, split a pair from the line for Lewis Cass to make it 31-29.
A McGlothin 3 gave RHS their biggest lead up to that point at 34-29, but Lewis Cass followed with their run.
Miller scored on a putback. Young drilled another 3 from the left corner. Johnson grabbed a loose ball and scored with 1:00 left, and Lewis Cass took a 36-34 lead into the fourth quarter.
Carson Vest hit Miller for a layup with 6:50 left, and Lewis Cass had their first two-possession lead of the night. McGlothin hit two free throws, but Vest split a pair at 6:28 to make it 39-36.
Malchow then called timeout at the 5:57 mark as Rochester made another effort at figuring out the Lewis Cass defense: Johnson was tight on McCarter on the perimeter, and points in the paint were not coming any easier.
Rochester had lost 49-35 to Lewis Cass on Dec. 30. Malchow admitted Saturday that he played it vanilla – they ran only a motion offense and man-to-man defense and not their typical matchup zone – on purpose in the first meeting.
Perhaps even more importantly, Stesiak missed the first game against Lewis Cass due to a coronavirus-related quarantine.
“I’m not going to lie,” Malchow said. “When we played them in December, we didn’t show much.”
Rochester 53, Lewis Cass 50
LEWIS CASS (50) (13-12)
Nolan Young 4 0-0 12, Tyson Good 6 0-2 13, Tyson Johnson 3 4-4 10, Carson Vest 0 3-4 3, Luke Chambers 0 2-2 2, Tristin Miller 3 1-2 7, Robert Fitch III 1 0-0 3, Blaine Rudd 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 17 10-14 50
ROCHESTER (53) (18-1)
Tarick McGlothin 5 6-6 19, Grant McCarter 1 2-2 5, Quin Stesiak 6 3-4 20, Kyle Reinartz 2 1-4 5, Blake Hughes 1 2-3 4, Aidan Smith 0 0-0 0, Trenton Reinholt 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 15 14-19 53
Three-point field goals:
Lewis Cass 6 (Young 4, Fitch III, Good),
Rochester 9 (Stesiak 5, McGlothin 3, McCarter)
Total fouls: Lewis Cass 15, Rochester 13
Turnovers: Lewis Cass 8, Rochester 13
Score by quarters
Lewis Cass 12 12 12 14 – 50
Rochester 11 13 10 19 – 53
Rochester senior Reece Renie holds the sectional trophy aloft and celebrates with his teammates following the Zebras’ 53-50 win over Lewis Cass in the Class 2A, Sectional 37 final at Delphi Saturday.
The Rochester boys basketball team won their second consecutive sectional title with a 53-50 win over Lewis Cass Saturday.