Show them who’s ‘Ross:’ Hornets hold Zebras scoreless for 10 minutes, advance to regional final
McCarter scores 9, Stesiak 8, but Rochester held to lowest point total since 2019
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
LAPEL –- The Rochester boys basketball seniors walked back to the bench with 1:59 left during the team’s Class 2A regional semifinal game against Rossville before coach Rob Malchow stopped them for one last embrace.
It was a show of appreciation for not only the end of a season but the end of an era.
But as for pleasant memories of the game, the hug might be the only thing the players can hang onto.
Damon Shaw scored 13 points, and the Rossville defense held Rochester for a 10:57 span of the second and third quarters in recording a 47-30 win and advancing to the regional final at Lapel High School.
Kaleb Del Real and Jesse Cornell added eight points each, and Reid Douglas and Luke Meek had seven each for the Hornets, who improved to 18-7.
Grant McCarter scored nine points, and Quin Stesiak added eight for the Zebras, who finished 18-2.
“When I was talking to them and I was smiling, I’m not smiling about today,” Malchow said. “I’m smiling about the season. Everything that these guys did … in the offseason they worked hard over at Grant’s house. When we couldn’t get together as coaches with our kids, the kids got together and played at his place. … These seniors have been so special for four years.”
The 30 points were the fewest Rochester has scored in a game since a 38-24 loss to Argos on Jan. 8, 2019.
It was also the first time they had lost a game away from home since a 47-45 loss at Peru on Feb. 21, 2020.
“It just really comes back to they played really well, and we didn’t,” Malchow said.
Rochester led 12-10 after a McCarter 3-pointer with 6:31 left in the half.
Then came the drought. Rossville scored 20 consecutive points, eventually forcing Rochester out of their matchup zone defense that had helped them reach the seventh-best defensive scoring average in the state during the season.
Rochester had 11 consecutive empty possessions:
an offensive foul on Aidan Smith
a steal by Rossville’s Kaleb Del Real which he turned into a 3-point play
a Tarick McGlothin missed 3-pointer
a Stesiak travel
a Blake Hughes miss from 15 feet, a held ball, and a McGlothin miss
a Hughes offensive foul on a push-off away from the ball on the first possession of the second half
a Shaw steal on a Stesiak pass into the lane
a McCarter missed 3-pointer
a McCarter missed 3-pointer, an offensive rebound and a McCarter missed pullup
a Smith missed 3-pointer, an offensive rebound and a McCarter missed 3-pointer
a Stesiak turnover when he lost his dribble out of bounds
Stesiak would hit a 3-pointer to break up that run, but Rossville would go on another 14-0 run covering the third and fourth quarters.
The lead eventually reached 46-17 before the Zebras would close the game out on a 13-1 run.
“I don’t know other than we didn’t make shots,” Malchow said when asked to explain the drought. “And it just seemed like shots that we had been able to convert through the season just evaded us. But you know, they came at us hard. They defended and put us on our heels.”
In a gym brimming with perhaps even more anticipation than a typical regional – all four teams were supposed to take part in the 2020 regional before the pandemic forced the cancelation of the state tournament – Rochester came out in a 3-2 zone and forced four Rossville turnovers in the first quarter.
There were six lead changes in the first quarter. McCarter’s 3-pointer from the left wing off a Reinartz skip pass canceled out an early Shaw 3.
Shaw’s 17-footer off the bounce tied the game 7-7 before Stesiak found Hughes for a layup to give Rochester a 9-7 lead after one quarter.
Douglas spun in a long 3-pointer at the 6:49 mark of the half before McCarter answered.
Then Shaw drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner to give Rossville a 13-12 lead, and the game was never the same.
“We talked about in the first timeout that I took about meeting your passes and going to the ball because even though they weren’t pressing and trapping like they typically do, they still came at us in that fashion and got three or four really key steals that really hurt us,” Malchow said.
Post touches for Reinartz and Hughes were few.
“I also feel like we got away from what we do well,” Malchow said. “We were shooting a lot of perimeter shots, and when you think back, that’s something that Grant does well all season. Tarick and Quin had great nights against (Lewis) Cass (in the sectional final), and you know, that sure wasn’t our plan coming in to just shoot perimeter shots, but when you get behind by 10, then you start getting in that mode of wanting to knock down the shots you’ve made your whole life like some of these guys have and they don’t fall, and then you’re down 15, and hello, it’s ugly.”
In the first semifinal, Landon Grimes scored 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and Luke Brown added 17 as Blackford topped Wapahani 52-45.
Freshman lead guard Isaac Andrews scored all 17 of his points in the second half to lead Wapahani (18-8).
Blackford then went on to beat Rossville 68-59 in the regional final Saturday night. Brown scored 33 points, including a 25-foot 3-pointer with three seconds left in the first quarter that put Blackford ahead for good at 23-20. Dawson Hundley scored 13 points, and reserve Dane Baker added 10 for the No. 10 Bruins.
Shaw scored 25 points, and Cornell had 19 for Rossville.
Blackford (25-4) will play top-ranked Fort Wayne Blackhawk at 1 p.m. this Saturday at Elkhart North Side Gym in the semistate.
Rossville 47, Rochester 30
ROSSVILLE (47) (18-7)
Luke Meek 2 3-3 7, Jesse Cornell 4 0-0 8, Reid Douglas 2 1-2 7, Kaleb Del Real 3 1-1 8, Damon Shaw 5 1-2 13, C.J. Geheb 0 0-0 0, Jace Jacoby 0 0-0 0, Jameson Cornell 0 0-0 0, Kaden Del Real 1 1-2 4, Ozzie Meeks 0 0-0 0, Drew Cornell 0 0-1 0, Austin Bray 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 17 7-11 47
ROCHESTER (30) (18-2)
Tarick McGlothin 0 0-0 0, Grant McCarter 3 0-0 9, Quin Stesiak 3 0-0 8, Kyle Reinartz 2 0-0 4, Blake Hughes 1 2-2 4, Dryden Vance 0 0-0 0, Aidan Smith 1 0-0 3, Reece Renie 0 0-0 0, Trenton Reinholt 0 0-0 0, Evan Elliott 0 2-2 2, Aaron Huffman 0 0-0 0, Brock Bowers 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 10 4-4 30
Three-point field goals:
Rossville 6 (Shaw 2, Douglas 2, Kaleb Del Real, Kaden Del Real),
Rochester 6 (McCarter 3, Stesiak 2, Smith)
Total fouls: Rossville 7, Rochester 14
Turnovers: Rossville 12, Rochester 11
Score by quarters
Rossville 7 16 12 12 – 47
Rochester 9 3 5 13 – 30