Shake and Blake: Zebra center scores career-high 22 caps undefeated TRC run with win over Maconaquah
Zebras end game on 12-0 run
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
BUNKER HILL –- With the Rochester boys basketball team clinging to a two-point lead in the fourth quarter against host Maconaquah Friday, they put the ball in the hands of Blake Hughes, and he carried them to complete their first undefeated record ever in the Three Rivers Conference.
Hughes scored 12 of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter, and he added nine
rebounds as the Zebras beat the Braves 58-44.
Kyle Reinartz added 12 points, all in the second half, for RHS. Grant McCarter had 10, including eight in the second half.
Rochester finished the regular season 16-1 overall and 9-0 in the TRC. RHS had already clinched the outright conference crown coming into Friday’s game, but by beating Maconaquah, they wrapped up their first undefeated record in the conference since joining the TRC in 1987.
“The TRC has always been good,” Malchow said. “When we went into the locker room, those guys were pumped chanting ‘9-0.’ And winning it by two games, that’s pretty neat because that doesn't happen very often in this conference. It’s something that these guys will remember for a long time.
“But I guarantee you this: If we win the sectional, they’ll remember that even more.”
Brayden Betzner hit six 3-pointers and scored 18 for Maconaquah, who lost their fourth straight game to finish their regular season 10-12, 4-5. Feenix Kile added 10.
Maconaquah hung within 46-44 on a Graham Stoll 15-footer with 5:59 left, but that’s when Hughes, Rochester’s 6-5 center, took over.
He hit a 15-footer from the right baseline. Then he ran around a double screen and drained another baseline shot from about the same spot.
Maconaquah called timeout. Still, they couldn’t stop Hughes.
He hit from the left baseline off a Reinartz drive-and-kick to make it 52-44. When he made two free throws with 3:23 left, the lead was in double figures for the first time.
After Hayden Maiben missed two free throws, Hughes scored on a strong post turnaround.
McCarter completed the scoring with two free throws with 34 seconds left.
Meanwhile, the rhythm of the Maconaquah offense slowed as Rochester played multiple zone defenses.
“I felt like the 3-2 defense we employed in the second half bothered them,” Malchow said. “And we went with a little 1-3-1 in the fourth quarter. So combined that with our ability to get out on their shooters better with those two defenses, and our rotations were pretty solid. I think our length bothered them in those situations where because of the 3-2, we were already matched up with their wings or even the 1-3-1.
“We were able to get out on shooters. We rebounded pretty well, and they missed some key free throws down the stretch, which always is helpful, and we made key free throws down the stretch.”
Maconaquah built their biggest lead at 22-17 when Betzner hit two straight 3-pointers early in the second quarter.
Rochester closed the half with a 7-2 run thanks to an Aidan Smith 3-pointer and two Hughes baskets, the last of which was a 10-footer in the lane that tied the game at 24 at halftime.
Reinartz and McCarter combined to score all 16 Rochester points in the third quarter after scoring only two between them in the first half.
Two straight Reinartz baskets gave RHS a 33-29 lead, but Maconaquah scored the next six points with Kile scoring twice and Maiben scoring off the drive to give the Braves a 35-33 lead.
Then the lead ping-ponged.
McCarter hit a 3 to give Rochester a 36-35 lead. Maiben answered on a drive. Reinartz scored in the post to put the Zebras back ahead. Kile dialed up a 3 from the right of the key with 26 seconds left in the third quarter, but Reinartz’s strong left baseline move for a bucket tied the game at 40 after three quarters.
“It was just the flow of the game, I think,” Malchow said when asked about Reinartz’s scoreless first half. “The whole point with Blake, Quin and Kyle is to get it down low because of our size advantage. And yet at the same time, when they started double-teaming and making sure our guards were moving in the slot so when they caught it, they could knock down open jump shots, but the bigs were just doing a good job of finishing for the most part.”
Nolan Kelly scored in transition to give Maconaquah a two-point lead with 7:20 left, but Reinartz hit two free throws, and McCarter found Hughes for a layup to give Rochester a 44-42 lead.
When Tarick McGlothin penetrated and found Quin Stesiak for a layup, the Zebras had some breathing room at 46-42.
“In the fourth quarter, we were able to break away because I think they were wearing out,” Malchow said.
Rochester will have a pre-sale for boys basketball sectional tickets in the RHS attendance office. Tickets will be available from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. through Thursday and from 8 a.m.-noon Friday. Tickets are $6. Rochester will play Delphi or North Newton at approximately 8:30 p.m. Friday.
The sectional final is set for 7 p.m. Saturday at Delphi. There will be no presale. Delphi will sell 1,200 tickets on a first-come, first-serve basis. Tickets are $6.
Masks are required to attend all sectional games.
Rochester 58, Maconaquah 44
ROCHESTER (58) (16-1, 9-0)
Tarick McGlothin 0 1-2 1, Grant McCarter 3 2-2 10, Quin Stesiak 4 0-1 8, Kyle Reinartz 5 2-2 12, Blake Hughes 10 2-2 22, Aaron Huffman 0 0-0 0, Trenton Reinholt 0 0-0 0, Evan Elliott 0 0-0 0, Dryden Vance 0 0-0 0, Aidan Smith 2 0-0 5, Brock Bowers 0 0-0 0, Reece Renie 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 24 7-9 58
MACONAQUAH (44) (10-12, 4-5)
Nolan Kelly 3 0-0 6, Brayden Betzner 6 0-0 18, Hayden Maiben 4 0-4 8, Feenix Kile 4 0-0 10, Graham Stoll 1 0-0 2, Bauer Maple 0 0-2 0, Brennan Bailey 0 0-0 0, Jarrett Thomlison 0 0-0 0, Trace Armstrong 0 0-0 0, Elijah Alvarado 0 0-0 0, Gavin Love 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 18 0-6 44
Three-point field goals:
Rochester 3 (McCarter 2, Smith),
Maconaquah 8 (Betzner 6, Kile 2)
Total fouls: Rochester 9, Maconaquah 12
Turnovers: Rochester 19, Maconaquah 13
Score by quarters
Rochester 17 7 16 18 – 58
Maconaquah 16 8 16 4 – 44
JV: Maconaquah 49, Rochester 27