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  • Val T.

Rochester cannot ‘faze’ Blue Jays, suffer first loss

Leasure, Bowers score 13, Hunting adds 12


Sports Editor, RTC

They tried a 2-3 zone, a 1-2-2 zone, a halfcourt trap, a man-to-man and some traps.

The Rochester boys basketball team seemingly exhausted their defensive packages

Brock Bowers

against visiting North Judson at the RHS gym Friday, but they could not find the defense that bothered the Blue Jays, a team that won a Class 2A sectional last season and that starts four seniors and a junior this season.

Rochester coach Rob Malchow thought his team competed. They hit eight 3-pointers as a team and put three players in double figures.

But stopping North Judson was the unsolved mystery.

Ty Schumacher scored 11 of his game-high 16 points in the first quarter as the Blue Jays beat the Zebras 65-45. Quinn Bales added 15, Kelson Jordan had 14, and Cheyenne Allen had 10, including a pair of second-half dunks.

Paul Leasure and Brock Bowers scored 13 points each for Rochester, who fell to 2-1. Luke Hunting had 12.

“They’re long, they’re athletic, and they don’t get fazed,” Malchow said. “They’re very confident, and that’s what you have since their sophomore year, they’ve been playing varsity. … They can see over you because they got size. They’ve been there, done that against every opponent. There’s nothing we threw at them that they haven’t seen. … That’s what happens when you play for your third straight season for the same guy.”

North Judson improved to 2-0. They led by double digits for the final three quarters, and their 20-point final margin represented their largest lead.

North Judson made more free throws (9) than Rochester attempted (8) and committed only six turnovers. The Zebras had 18 turnovers.

“We needed to make a couple more shots in that first half, and in that second half, I think we turned the ball four or five times where we shouldn’t have turned it over,” Malchow said. “We had it down to around 12 or 14 early in the fourth quarter, and you’re thinking, hey, if we can knock down a shot and maybe run one of our traps and get a quick steal and another bucket and get it under 10 and call timeout, but you know, North Judson, doggone it, they’re good.”

Schumacher hit a 3-pointer, knocked down two free throws and then converted a 3-point play off a swooping finger roll down the lane as North Judson jumped out to a 14-5 lead.

Hunting and Bowers followed with 3-pointers to cut the deficit to three, but an Eric Materna midrange jumper from the right baseline and a Connor Benson 3-pointer got the gap back to 19-11.

Malchow thought his team attacked well offensively. They also varied looks offensively. Sometimes they let Leasure operate from the point in space. Sometimes they gave him a high ball screen and then popped out the screener in an attempt to force the North Judson defender to decide whether to cover shooters like Bowers or Hunting or stick with Leasure.

“I think he’s most comfortable when we spread it out, and that’s why we did that a lot in what’s called our ‘special’ and let him go one-on-one, where he can get any kind of lean and get a guy to go and then pull back,” Malchow said of Leasure. “He jumps well, and he finishes pretty well in those situations. He’s getting better and better as the season’s going on.”

North Judson coach Kent Chezem called Rochester “really well-rounded” offensively.

“They’ve got a big anchor in the middle in (Xavier) Vance,” Chezem said. “They’ve got a tremendous point guard in Leasure. And those wings are athletic and can shoot. They’re a tough matchup for people. They really shot the ball well tonight. We had a hard time getting out on those shooters.”

Malchow said that he’s hopeful to get senior guard-forward Aidan Smith back by Jan. 1. Smith has not played in a varsity game since a loss at Tippecanoe Valley 11 months ago. Smith dressed and participated in warm-ups Friday. Malchow said he has participated in two practices, eight fewer than the minimum required in order to be eligible to play.

Rochester travels to Logansport tonight. The Berries lost to Muncie Central 55-53 on Friday.

Rochester’s conference opener is at home against North Miami next Friday.

In the JV game, Rochester prevailed 39-28 behind Drew Bowers’ 11 points. Carson Paulik and Grant Clark had nine each, Jonas Kiser had five, Hunter Honkomp and Jack Reffett had two each, and Bryce Baugher had one.

North Judson 65, Rochester 45

NORTH JUDSON (65) (2-0)

Wyatt Stowe 0 0-0 0, Ty Schumacher 5 3-3 16, Quinn Bales 7 0-0 15, Cheyenne Allen 5 0-0 10, Kelson Jordan 4 5-6 14, Aldric Harper 0 0-0 0, Connor Benson 2 0-0 5, Eric Materna 2 1-3 5

TEAM: 25 9-12 65

ROCHESTER (45) (2-1)

Brock Bowers 5 0-0 13, Paul Leasure 5 1-2 13, Tanner Reinartz 0 1-2 1, Luke Hunting 3 3-4 12, Xavier Vance 2 0-0 4, Ethan Medina 0 0-0 0, Owen Prater 1 0-0 2, Bryce Baugher 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 16 5-8 45

Three-point field goals:

North Judson 6 (Schumacher 3, Bales, Benson, Jordan),

Rochester 8 (Hunting 3, Bowers 3, Leasure 2)

Total fouls: North Judson 10, Rochester 13

Turnovers: North Judson 6, Rochester 18

Score by quarters

North Judson 24 16 12 13 – 65

Rochester 14 14 10 7 – 45

JV: Rochester 39, North Judson 28

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