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  • Val T.

Rochester relies on pressure defense to beat Whitko

Bowers leads with 14, Prater adds 10


Sports Editor, RTC

Drew Bowers

Rochester boys basketball practice was not going well Tuesday, according to coach Rob Malchow.

In fact, it was going so bad that Malchow considered ending practice early and sending the players home.

But at the last minute, he changed his mind. After briefly stopping practice, he decided he sent the players back on the court for some live scrimmaging. He wanted players on both sides of the scrimmage to press each other up and down the court.

Malchow said he saw something, and he continued it for the game against Whitko Thursday.

What followed might have been the Zebras’ most impressive defensive performance of the season.

Owen Prater

Drew Bowers scored 14 points, and Owen Prater added 10, and Rochester never trailed after the first quarter en route to a 54-39 win.

Rochester improved to 4-5 overall and 2-0 in the Three Rivers Conference. Whitko fell to 5-3, 1-2. Rochester beat Whitko for the third time in four years but for the first time at home since Jan. 10, 2014.

Kyler Krull scored 20, Riley Harman had 10, and Sam Essegian had nine for Whitko, but their 39 points were a season low. Whitko came in averaging 56 points per game with Krull averaging 21 and Essegian averaging 15.

“I put my whistle up, I started putting things away, and I was going to go in and kick them out,” Malchow recalled from the Tuesday practice. “I didn’t have anything. I was done. So as I’m putting things away, I stop and look in the mirror and I go, ‘It’s too easy.’ I just paced back and forth, and I thought we’ve got to change something. We’ve got to do something to get these guys going. So I went out, and the last half-hour, all we did was have both teams press in that Carolina press we did – run and jump – and just play.”

Malchow said assistant coach Rex Reinholt was not at the Tuesday practice because the practice was held during the morning during a time when Rochester was not in school and Reinholt was at his day job.

After practice, Malchow called Reinholt and told him what happened at practice and said he wanted to go with more pressing against Whitko.

They devised two different presses but also decided they were going to play 12 players because of the tiring nature of using a press. (In fact, Rochester used 13 players.)

“Boy, they really responded,” Malchow said. “I just told them I want to attack offensively, and I want you to put them on their heels defensively. The challenge now is we caught them off-guard. There wasn’t any film on that.”

Baugher scored eight points, including a 3-pointer in the first quarter that gave Rochester a 7-6 lead. Defensively, the 6-1 Baugher had the matchup on Krull, who is five inches taller. But the defense might have been more of a collective effort, according to Baugher.

“At the start of the game, I was matched up against Kyler Krull. … Obviously, we thought he was going to be a big problem for us, but I think we came in as a team and focused on him real well. We came in with a press that we’ve been practicing that we started on Wednesday, and I think it was really effective. … Just our effort’s changed a lot.”

Whitko scored the final six points of the third quarter to get back within 35-27, but Bowers hit a pullup 15-footer, and Jonas Kiser drove into the chest of Krull and spun in a banker with the left hand with 5:40 left to get the lead to 12.

The lead stayed in double figures the rest of the way. Rochester made nine of 12 free throws, all in the final 3:21. Despite not attempting a free throw the first 28-and-a-half minutes, the Zebras made more free throws than Whitko attempted (7).

Reinartz hit a 3-pointer from the right wing off a Bowers assist from the lane with 33 seconds left in the third quarter to make it 12-9.

After Prater and Krull exchanged buckets in the first 40 seconds of the second quarter, the Zebras went on a 9-0 run to go up 23-11.

Bowers fed Prater with a bounce pass in traffic for a layup, Kiser drilled a 3-pointer off a Reinartz assist, Reinartz scored on a driving layup, and Bowers hit a pullup jumper.

“Like I told the guys afterwards in the locker room, don’t ever underestimate the mental over the physical,” Malchow said. “I’d say it’s two to one, mental over physical. Because if you’re ready to play and the other team is now, it makes a big difference.”

Whitko coach Chris Benedict called timeout, and the Wildcats responded with six straight points before a Jack Reffett 3-pointer off a Baugher assist made it 26-17 with 20 seconds left in the half.

The Zebras’ first nine points of the second half came on treys from Bowers, Reinartz and Baugher to get the lead to 35-21.

“They played aggressive,” Whitko coach Chris Benedict said of the Zebras. “All five of their guys were aggressive and flying to the ball. We were kind of stationary and passive and let the ball come to us. They were the aggressor, and the aggressor is going to the the guy that makes the most plays, and they were just more aggressive on both ends of the floor.”

Rochester 54, Whitko 39

WHITKO (39) (5-3, 1-2)

Jaylen Gibson 0 0-0 0, Easton Grable 0 0-0 0, Riley Harman 4 0-0 10, Sam Essegian 4 1-2 9, Kyler Krull 7 4-5 20, Logan Hoffman 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 15 5-7 39

ROCHESTER (54) (4-5, 2-0)

Drew Bowers 6 1-2 14, Owen Prater 3 4-4 10, Carson Paulik 1 2-2 4, Tanner Reinartz 3 0-0 8, Bryce Baugher 2 2-4 8, Grant Clark 0 0-0 0, Davis Renie 0 0-0 0, Dylan Hook 0 0-0 0, Luke Malchow 0 0-0 0, Hunter Honkomp 0 0-0 0, Robert Bozzo 1 0-0 2, Jonas Kiser 2 0-0 5, Jack Reffett 1 0-0 3

TEAM: 19 9-12 54

Three-point field goals:

Whitko 4 (Krull 2, Harman 2),

Rochester 7 (Reinartz 2, Baugher 2, Kiser, Reffett, Bowers)

Total fouls: Whitko 13, Rochester 14

Fouled out: Essegian (WHI), :06.6, fourth

Turnovers: Whitko 15, Rochester 14

Score by quarters

Whitko 9 8 10 12 39

Rochester 12 14 9 19 54

JV: Rochester 41, Whitko 37

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