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  • Val T.

The bus travels long distance: Rochester sinks 11 3-pointers, routs Northfield

Leasure scores 14, Bowers adds 10 for Zebras


Sports Editor, RTC

Rochester boys basketball coach Rob Malchow metaphorically told his team after a 54-24 loss to Caston on Jan. 18 that the bus was leaving.

Brock Bowers

Would they get on board?

In non-metaphorical terms, they would need to play more of a fullcourt, 84-foot style and look to run more. Conditioning – “a lot more conditioning,” Malchow said – would be emphasized at practice.

The bus took a happy ride when Rochester came back from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Manchester last week.

Against Northfield Friday at the RHS gym, the bus looked like it had been in for a tuneup.

Paul Leasure scored 14 points, and Brock Bowers added 10 as the Zebras cruised to a 60-32 win over the Norsemen.

Rochester made 11 3-pointers – six different players made one – as compared to Northfield’s one. That helped offset Rochester attempting only one free throw.

“That’s really what it was, the guys taking advantage of what they got as far as open looks go,” Rochester coach Rob Malchow said. “And with their size, it was going to be tough for us down low. And I thought we still attacked well in the low post area, but we were a little limited there. And our guys on the perimeter shot the ball well.”

Already leading 37-17 at halftime, Rochester held Northfield without a field goal in the third quarter. They led by as many as 32 points in the second half.

In beating Northfield for the fifth straight year, Rochester improved to 6-7 overall and 3-2 in the Three Rivers Conference.

Jaxton Peas scored eight points for Northfield, who fell to 3-11, 0-6.

Rochester went on a 17-2 run in the first quarter to build a 19-6 lead. Luke Hunting, who had seven points and six rebounds in the first half, started the run with a putback. Xavier Vance made it 6-4 with a layup. A backcourt steal and layup from Bowers, a 3-pointer from the left corner off a Vance skip pass assist and a Leasure layup after another backcourt turnover made it 13-4.

“Luke Hunting, without a doubt, was a key component to our start,” Malchow said.

Northfield coach Rex Reimer called timeout, and Noah Burkhart broke the run with a basket, but Vance scored in the post, Leasure zipped a long bounce pass to Bowers for a layup, and Leasure hit from the midrange after a hesitation fake.

The Zebras hit five more 3-pointers in the second quarter, including two corner triples from Ethan Medina. They were the first six points of his varsity career.

“It really just started last Wednesday after the Caston game,” Malchow said. “And what it really comes down to is the defense. The defense is the uptempo. The offense is the result of the defense. And that’s what we were hoping to do, and so far we were able to do that. … At the end of the day, as we can see, our guys are better in the open court, and we knew that, but we just didn’t know when they would be able to get turned loose where we could trust them to jump-stop and make the right pass and we seem to be getting there.”

Freshman Tanner Reinartz hit a pair of 3s in the second half. He called the practices since the Caston game “a grind.”

“We had a lot of great steals and made them turn the ball over a lot,” Reinartz said. “It’s a blast. I love it. It’s fun playing with more experienced guys.”

Reinartz also praised Leasure’s leadership.

“I love Paul,” Reinartz said. “He’s great. He’s a great scorer and helps us with literally everything. He dims things down and explains things and helps the team out a bunch.”

Northfield tried a man-to-man, a 3-2 zone and a 1-3-1 zone in the first half. In the second half, they went to a fullcourt man-to-man, but Leasure outscored the entire Northfield team 7-6 in the third quarter.

“We just lost some guys defensively, and they knocked down some of those 3s,” Northfield first-year coach Rex Reimer said. “We put that 3-2 zone in this week, and I put some length on top of it just to see them try and disrupt their guards trying to pass it down low, and it worked for a second, but they still hit a couple 3s in that. … I was just trying to find something that would work.”

Rochester also won the JV game 59-29. Owen Prater led Rochester with 11 points, and Bryce Baugher had 10. Robert Bozzo and Dylan Hook had eight each, Gavin Young and Drew Bowers had five each, Hunter Campbell and Colton Ferverda had four each, Medina had three, and Thatcher Sampsel had one.

Zebra notes

  • Rochester junior forward Aidan Smith missed his second straight game. Malchow said he might not return this season. Malchow said he was unsure when or how Smith got hurt but said he had been complaining of headaches and “concussion-like” symptoms.

“He’s going through a concussion protocol,” Malchow said. “I don’t know if we’ll be back or not.”

  • Northfield point guard Dillon Tomlinson missed the game due to a bone bruise, according to Reimer. Tomlinson is Northfield’s leading scorer at 12.5 ppg.

  • Rochester will travel to North White Saturday. The Vikings handed Class 2A, No. 6 Carroll (Flora) their first loss 50-49 on Friday on a shot at the buzzer by Hunter Pogue.

“They’ve beat some real good teams this year, and their seniors are hungry,” Malchow said. “And Rochester in the series is 5-0 against them, I think going back to coach (Rex) Reinholt’s last season and my four. I’m pretty sure they want a piece of the Zebras. … We’re going to have to play really well to compete.”

  • Northfield will host Caston Saturday. Caston beat Pioneer 55-36 on Friday and has won seven in a row.

“I’ve been watching them on film, and they’re a really physical team,” Reimer said. “I’ve told the guys this week too … that if we don’t match their physicality, it’s going to be a dogfight.”

Rochester 60, Northfield 32

NORTHFIELD (32) (3-11, 0-6)

Jaxton Peas 1 6-12 8, Jake Halderman 2 0-0 4, Eli Kroh 3 0-0 6, Noah Burkhart 1 0-0 2, Kaleb Krom 2 1-2 5, Easton Shaw 1 0-0 3, C.J. Long 1 0-0 2, Kody Stambaugh 0 0-0 0, Paul Treska 1 0-0 2, Kamden Carpenter 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 12 7-14 32

ROCHESTER (60) (6-7, 3-2)

Brock Bowers 4 0-0 10, Tarick McGlothin 2 0-0 6, Paul Leasure 6 0-0 14, Tanner Reinartz 2 0-0 6, Luke Hunting 3 1-1 7, Owen Prater 1 0-0 2, Aaron Huffman 1 0-0 3, Evan Elliott 0 0-0 0, Robert Bozzo 0 0-0 0, Ethan Medina 2 0-0 6, Xavier Vance 3 0-0 6

TEAM: 24 1-1 60

Three-point field goals:

Northfield 1 (Shaw),

Rochester 11 (Reinartz 2, McGlothin 2, Medina 2, Bowers 2, Leasure 2, Huffman)

Total fouls: Northfield 7, Rochester 13

Turnovers: Northfield 18, Rochester 19

Score by quarters

Northfield 8 9 6 9 – 32

Rochester 19 18 16 7 – 60

JV: Rochester 59, Northfield 29

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