Senior living: Veteran Comets sink 10 treys, rout Rochester
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Starting guards Joey Spin and Kade Zeider combined to make nine 3-pointers, and Sam Smith added 14 points to lead the Caston boys basketball team to a 54-24 rout over host Rochester at the RHS gym Tuesday.
Spin hit five treys and scored a game-high 15 points, Zeider hit four 3s and had 12, and Bryce Rudicel tacked on 10 for Caston, who won their fifth straight game and improved to 8-4. Jake Paschen also nailed a triple in the second half to give Caston 10 for the game.
Caston was coming off a 70-39 win over West Central on Saturday, and the back-to-back 30-plus point wins mark the first time Caston has done that since the 1990-91 season.
Caston will travel to Winamac on Friday. They have not had a six-game winning streak since the 2012-13 season.
Paul Leasure hit a pair of 3-pointers and led Rochester with seven points, but the Zebras dropped to 0-3 in January and 4-7 on the season.
Caston scored the first eight points and never trailed.
The first 30 seconds symbolized the game.
Smith won the opening tip. Rochester came out in a 2-3 zone defense. Caston worked the ball around the perimeter before Smith touched it in the short corner. Rudicel cut from the high post, and Smith fed him for a point-blank layup.
Then Rochester committed a 10-second violation, unable to get the ball past halfcourt against Caston’s pressure.
“I think really you go back to the Carroll game (a 70-38 loss on Dec. 10), I think that was a turning point for us,” Caston coach Carl Davis said. “We weren’t ready to play out of the gate against them, and since then, these guys have made some changes and they’ve made sure they're focused and locked in. I thought we started to slip a little bit. We had a conversation about it this morning or yesterday or whenever it was and kind of talked about the importance of setting the tone. How do we carry ourselves in walk-throughs and pre-game shoot(arounds) and pre-game warm-ups? I thought it showed tonight that they were ready to go from the tip.”
Rochester had eight field goals as compared to 22 turnovers. After graduating four starters from a team that won back-to-back sectionals in 2020 and 2021 and a TRC title in 2021, coach Rob Malchow acknowledged something of a role reversal against Caston, even with guards with varsity experience like Leasure and Tarick McGlothin.
That’s because all five Caston starters – Spin, Zeider, Rudicel, Smith and Jake Paschen – are all seniors.
“In a lot of ways, this year we’re getting done to us what we did to people last season because of the physicality that we brought last season,” Rochester coach Rob Malchow said. “So now, the script had been reversed. My end of it is trying to make sure we come to practice, play hard, trying to find things in practice we can do that keeps our energy up, keeps us going. So it’s just something that you just keep hoping that they understand that everybody we have comes back and we’re playing a young group of guys and hopefully they can play through some of that stuff.”
Spin and Zeider hit 3-pointers to make it 8-0.
Leasure answered with a long trey, but Smith hit two free throws, Rudicel scored in transition after a Rochester turnover, and Spin hit another 3 to make it 15-3.
Rochester hung within 20-10 in the second quarter after McGlothin hit a 17-foot pullup, but Caston closed the half on a 15-0 run, which included a driving finger roll from Rudicel, back-to-back treys from Zeider, a Rudicel bucket in the post, a Spin step-back 3 off the bounce and a Smith tip-in at the buzzer on an inbounds play in which he had to tip the ball since there was only 0.2 seconds left.
“I can’t say we’ve practiced that that many times this year,” a smiling Davis said. “It’s a basketball-savvy group. We can call the play, and they know what the play calls for, but ultimately, they have to understand there are 0.2 seconds and what they have to do. Great job on the inbound there and great finish by Sam.
The lead got as big as 33 points in the fourth quarter.
Having said that, Rochester’s defense improved after switching from a 2-3 zone at the start to a man-to-man for most of the second half. And a better defensive effort might be necessary against Manchester on Friday. The Squires average 61 points per game and are led by star freshman Gavin Betten, who averages 17.2 ppg.
“Because that’s what we usually play well,” Malchow said of starting in a zone. “They do a really good job with screens against man-to-man defenses. We had hoped to be able to get out on their shooters a little better than we did obviously. When we didn’t, we went to man-to-man in the second half, and we definitely played harder and with more intensity. But some of the same results: They still got open shots. I liked our effort a lot better in the second half.”
Caston also cruised to a 66-37 win in the JV game. Talon Zeider led Caston with 32 points, and Caleb Stinson had 17. Connor Sommers, Max Sommers and Jackson Rentschler had four each, Corbin Smith and Grant Yadon had two each, and Evan Howard had one.
Drew Bowers led Rochester with seven points. Dylan Hook and Colton Ferverda had six each, Ethan Medina had five, Hunter Campbell and Brock Bowers had four each, Luke Malchow had three, and Bryce Baugher had two.
Caston 54, Rochester 24
CASTON (54) (8-4)
Joey Spin 5 0-0 15, Kade Zeider 4 0-0 12, Bryce Rudicel 5 0-0 10, Jake Paschen 1 0-0 3, Sam Smith 6 2-2 14, Connor Sommers 0 0-0 0, Jackson Rentschler 0 0-0 0, Colby Pugh 0 0-0 0, Evan Howard 0 0-0 0, Cain Schanlaub 0 0-0 0, Talon Zeider 0 0-0 0, Caleb Stinson 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 21 2-2 54
ROCHESTER (24) (4-7)
Tarick McGlothin 2 0-0 5, Paul Leasure 2 1-2 7, Aaron Huffman 0 0-0 0, Tanner Reinartz 1 0-0 3, Aidan Smith 0 2-2 2, Hunter Campbell 1 0-0 2, Brock Bowers 0 1-2 1, Luke Hunting 0 0-0 0, Evan Elliott 0 0-0 0, Robert Bozzo 0 0-0 0, Ethan Medina 0 0-0 0, Xavier Vance 2 0-0 4
TEAM: 8 4-6 24
Three-point field goals:
Caston 10 (Spin 5, K. Zeider 4, Paschen),
Rochester 4 (Leasure 2, McGlothin, Reinartz)
Total fouls: Caston 9, Rochester 3
Turnovers: Caston 8, Rochester 22
Score by quarters
Caston 18 17 11 8 – 54
Rochester 5 5 11 3 – 24
JV: Caston 66, Rochester 37