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  • Val T.

Rochester holds off hot-shooting Comets, wins by 19

Led by Leasure’s 20, Zebras put all 5 starters in double figures; Zeider has 17 for Caston


Sports Editor, RTC

FULTON — Rochester boys basketball coach Rob Malchow had a message for some of his seniors at halftime of their road game with Caston Tuesday.

Have fun.

He knows that they take basketball seriously. Just trust your instincts and enjoy the game.

The Zebras then went out and enjoyed themselves, pulling away in the fourth quarter to earn a 66-47 win and improve to 7-4.

Senior point guard Paul Leasure was one of the seniors who received the message, and he scored nine of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter. All five Zebras starters scored in double figures as Brock Bowers and Tanner Reinartz added 11 each, and Aidan Smith and Luke Hunting had 10 each.

The 66 points were a season high. Last year, Rochester lost 54-24 to Caston, and the 24 points were a season low.

“At halftime, he was really frustrated, and he and I talked for a minute about (having) fun,” Malchow said. “Take a deep breath. We got a couple guys that put a lot of pressure on themselves. You know, with five weeks to go in the season as seniors, they need to enjoy the ride and just go play. Sometimes, they’re going one dribble too deep and making the extra tough pass instead of the easy pass. … Take what the defense gives you.”

Talon Zeider hit five 3-pointers and scored 17 points for Caston (4-8). Playing without starting center Cain Schanlaub and reserve forward Grant Yadon due to illness, the Comets sunk 10 3-pointers against Rochester’s zone.

Colby Pugh hit three of those treys, including a 25-footer with 4:32 left that cut what had been a 16-point deficit down to 50-45. That turned out to be Caston’s last field goal as Rochester switched from a zone to a man-to-man defense and closed on a 16-2 run.

Reinartz started the run when he hit two free throws after wrestling an offensive rebound away from a Caston defender and being fouled on the way up with 4:04 left.

“It was like he wasn’t going to be denied,” Malchow said. “It was neat to see him compete that way. Early in the game there for awhile, a couple of guys looked like they were in a little bit of a fog on our end as far as how we were defending, and we talked at halftime, and I thought they came out and played a lot better in their own right even though Caston got hot.”

Said Caston coach Carl Davis: “I thought (in the) second half, it’s kind of a run killer when you can’t get a rebound or we can’t get to those 50-50 balls. A lot of that credit goes to Rochester. They just do a great job pursuing the basketball and coming up with those 50-50 balls. I thought that was the difference in the game.”

Leasure hit a 3 from the left wing, and Leasure hit a cutting Smith from the baseline for a layup and a foul that led to a 3-point play and restored the lead to 13.

Caleb Stinson hit two free throws for Caston, but six Leasure free throws and a Smith steal and layup closed it out.

Rochester went 9 for 9 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.

Rochester held Caston without a field goal in the second quarter in building a 25-12 halftime lead. But Pugh hit a 3-pointer on the first possession of the third quarter, and the treys came in torrents – seven in the quarter alone including three from Zeider and two each from Pugh and fellow senior Evan Howard.

A 12-footer from Stinson and treys from Zeider and Pugh got the lead down to five in the fourth.

“We had guys step up and do good things,” Caston coach Carl Davis said. “Anytime you mix up the rotation as much as we’ve needed to the last couple weeks, it makes things tough, but these guys battled and competed. Overall, in the second half, I thought offensively we played well enough to come back and win the game. Obviously, we shot it really well in the second half. Guys were ready to go and stepped up and knocked shots down.

“That’s what we need moving forward.”

Rochester also won the JV game 59-29. Carson Paulik scored 14 points to lead Rochester. Jonas Kiser added eight, Bryce Baugher had seven, Xavier Vance and Davis Renie had six each, Owen Prater and Hunter Honkomp had five each, Jack Reffett had four, and Grant Clark and Drew Bowers had two each.

Josh Evans led the Caston JV with 16. Gavin Mollenkopf had seven, Corbin Smith had four, and Alex Craig and Max Sommers had one each.

Rochester 66, Caston 47

ROCHESTER (66) (7-4)

Brock Bowers 5 0-0 11, Paul Leasure 6 6-6 20, Aidan Smith 4 1-1 10, Tanner Reinartz 3 4-4 11, Luke Hunting 5 0-1 10, Drew Bowers 0 0-0 0, Owen Prater 0 0-0 0, Bryce Baugher 0 0-0 0, Xavier Vance 2 0-0 4

TEAM: 25 11-12 66

CASTON (47) (4-8)

Rowan Jellison 2 0-0 4, Talon Zeider 6 0-0 17, Caleb Stinson 1 4-6 6, Colby Pugh 3 0-0 9, Jackson Rentschler 2 1-2 5, Alex Craig 0 0-0 0, Brady Evans 0 0-0 0, Evan Howard 2 0-0 6

TEAM: 16 5-8 47

Three-point field goals:

Rochester 5 (Leasure 2, B. Bowers, Reinartz, Smith),

Caston 10 (Zeider 5, Pugh 3, Howard 2)

Total fouls: Rochester 11, Caston 11

Fouled out Pugh (CAS), :28.4, fourth

Turnovers: Rochester 13, Caston 14

Score by quarters

Rochester 15 10 21 20 – 66

Caston 9 3 25 10 – 47

JV: Rochester 59, Caston 29

Rochester’s Paul Leasure dribbles in between Caston’s Caleb Stinson and Evan Howard (20) during the Zebras’ 66-47 win Tuesday. Leasure scored a game and season-high 20 points. Rochester travels to Manchester on Friday while Caston hosts Winamac Friday. (photo provided by Dee Brown)

Rochester senior guard Aidan Smith drives for a layup while being fouled during the Zebras’ 66-47 win over Caston Friday. Smith scored a season-high 10 points.

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