- Val T.
Reinartz, energetic leader of sectional champ Zebras, is RTC player of year
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
If you look up the boys basketball statewide scoring leaders, you won’t find many players in the RTC area.
This was the year of balanced scoring where teams could have any of a number of players lead their team in scoring every night.
This was also the year of the slow pace. While nobody played stall ball in the area, there were not many teams that rushed shots up to the rim either.
This was also the year of defense. From Rochester’s multiple 2-3 zones to Caston’s switching man-to-man to Pioneer’s hard-nosed defense to Culver’s frenetic pressure to Argos’ defensive versatility, every team seemed to have their own defensive-oriented culture and identity.
That tended to lead to more 42-40 games and very few 62-60 games.
So, in picking an RTC player of the year, the name that came to mind was Rochester senior Kyle Reinartz. Coach Rob Malchow said prior to the season that Reinartz had been playing well in early practices and was in line for a great year, and he was right.
At 6-4, Reinartz was also an outstanding passing big man. And most importantly, he was the biggest part of why Rochester allowed less than 41 points per game, essentially stalking the top shooter on the opposing team from atop a 2-3 zone.
The 41 points allowed were the fewest in Malchow’s 13 seasons as Rochester coach.
Here’s the rest of the all-RTC team. We should note that while we thank the area coaches for all their insight throughout the season that this list is ours and ours alone and we take full responsibility.
Kyle Reinartz (Rochester) – Reinartz was great at finishing around the rim. You might take the ability to make shots within five feet in traffic for granted, but when that player graduates, you notice it a lot. Reinartz always finished near the rim.
Dawson Perkins (Tippecanoe Valley) – Perkins really worked on his game during the summer of 2020, and he became a smooth finisher around the rim on offense while also protecting the rim on defense.
J.J. Morris (Argos) – Morris had a promising freshman season, but he was a totally different player as a sophomore. He could score from anywhere on the court – in the post, off the dribble and from 3-point land. He also improved his ballhandling skills and became a physically stronger defender at 6-5.
Russell Compton (Winamac) – Compton went from being a sidekick for the Larkin brothers to becoming the focal point for all Winamac opponents. He led Winamac in scoring (12.2 ppg) and in 3-pointers (22), but he also could score off the dribble and be a playmaker.
Quin Stesiak (Rochester) – Stesiak got off to a slow start due to a coronavirus-related quarantine, but he was playing the best basketball of his career by the sectional. He combined post and perimeter skills on offense and was also a strong rebounder.
Nolan Cumberland (Tippecanoe Valley) – As a team, Valley was inconsistent. But the one player they could rely on every night was Cumberland. He could shoot the 3, and he became a more polished finisher around the basket.
Grant McCarter (Rochester) – McCarter made more clutch 3-pointers than any player in the area. He just about single-handedly won games against North Judson and Winamac.
Ezra Lewellen (Pioneer) – Lewellen became a more prolific scorer and confident shooter as the season progressed, but we also like that the 5-7 Lewellen averaged over five rebounds per game.
Kade Zeider (Caston) – The Caston offense allowed for multiple 3-point looks for Zeider, and he took advantage, leading the team with 10.5 ppg. Caston doesn’t beat North White in the sectional final without Zeider’s seven 3-pointers against Tri-County in the sectional final the night before.
Michael Richard (Argos) – Richard was the point guard for an 18-win team. He averaged 12 points per game, and his 3-point shot became more reliable. He was also a very solid defender, whether playing man or zone.
Paul Leasure (Tippecanoe Valley)
Owen Clingler (Culver)
Sam Smith (Caston)
Hunter Klepinger (Pioneer)
Blake Hughes (Rochester)
Dylan Kindig (Argos)
Tarick McGlothin (Rochester)
Bryce Rudicel (Caston)
Jalen King (Culver)
Beau Brandt (Winamac)
Joey Spin (Caston)
Emiliano Ortiz (Culver)
Jake Stults (Argos)
Drew McKaig (Pioneer)
Brendyn Stump (Tippecanoe Valley)