The Hughes, the proud, the Zebras: Rochester beats Peru, clinches TRC title share
Down 11 in 4th quarter, RHS rallies to improve to 8-0 in TRC
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
With 7.1 seconds left in their game with Peru Friday, Rochester boys basketball coach Rob Malchow called Quin Stesiak over for a chat.
As far as those two free throws he just missed, those were just practice shots. The ones he was about to take were for real.
At the biggest moment of the season, Stesiak smiled and sunk perhaps the two biggest free throws of his career to complete the scoring in the Zebras’ come-from-behind 51-48 win at the RHS gym.
Rochester, who improved to 15-1 overall and 8-0 in the TRC, trailed by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter. They scored the last six points of the game to pull out their first win over Peru since 2013 and clinch a share of the Three Rivers Conference title.
“They really played strong,” Rochester coach Rob Malchow said. “They came at us, and we haven’t played many teams this year that just have the physical ability to come at us the way we usually do the opponent.”
“It feels really good to win a TRC,” Reinartz said. “First time ever with a great team. … Coach said we always find a way, and we ended up finding a way today. So I didn’t doubt it.”
The Zebras had been 0-5 against Peru since Peru joined the TRC in the 2015-16 school year.
Blake Hughes led four RHS players in double figures with 14 points.
Tarick McGlothin scored all 11 of his points in the second half. Kyle Reinartz also had 11, and Stesiak had 10.
Matt Ross’s double-double – 16 points, 11 rebounds – led Peru, who fell to 14-6 overall and 6-2 in the TRC. Treyden Curtis added 13.
After Stesiak’s free throws, Peru had a chance to tie. They had no timeouts. Ross got off a desperation 3-pointer in heavy traffic from the top of the key, but it hit nothing but glass just before the buzzer.
The Zebras mobbed each other on the court afterwards. Either they will win the TRC outright or they will share the title with Manchester.
Manchester, who beat Maconaquah 64-55 Friday, will travel to Whitko Tuesday and host Northfield next Friday.
RHS will look to complete a perfect conference record when they travel to Maconaquah next Friday.
Peru led 41-30 with 7:30 left on a Ross transition layup, but RHS came back to eventually tie it at 45 on Reinartz’s 3-point play off a Stesiak assist with 54.9 seconds left.
RHS continued in their diamond halfcourt trap, but Peru advanced the ball against the trap, and Kade Townsend buried a triple from the left corner off a Ross assist to give Peru a 48-45 lead.
McGlothin raced ahead and beat Curtis off the dribble for a layup to cut the lead to 48-47 with 33.8 seconds left.
After a RHS timeout, McCarter fouled Ross with 29.0 seconds left. At 72 percent, Ross is Peru’s best free throw shooter.
But he missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Kash Bellar fouled Reinartz after Reinartz hauled down the rebound in heavy traffic with 26.4 seconds left.
Reinartz made the first free throw. Peru coach Eric Thompson called timeout. Reinartz then made the second free throw.
“We focus on free throws a lot,” Reinartz said. “We practice them every day at practice. That was huge today. That’s what won us the game at the end of the game. Free throws, fundamental.”
The Zebras had their first lead since the first quarter.
Curtis then drove and missed, and Ross got the offensive rebound. Stesiak got a hand on the ball as Ross rose up. A jump ball was called with 14.0 seconds left.
Townsend fouled Stesiak with 13.3 seconds left, but Stesiak missed his “practice” shots.
Ross rebounded. Peru’s Pete Polk appeared open underneath the basket on the other end, but he missed a five-footer banker trying to shoot over McGlothin, and Stesiak hustled back for the rebound and was fouled.
“This was a good game,” Malchow said. “As the game was playing out, God knows I wanted to win it, but I was trying to think about how we’re going to be better from the game because the sectional, that’s the crown jewel. And how do we take this game because Cass is going to play that way. And if we play Cass in sectional, we’re going to have to be better than what we were tonight. We’ve got it on film, and hopefully we can grow from it.”
A McGlothin 3-pointer and a Stesiak 3-point play got the comeback started. A Hughes 15-footer off a McGlothin feed made it 42-38. Ross hit two free throws, but McGlothin hit a pullup 15-footer from the foul line after a Stesiak steal to make it 44-40.
Reinartz tipped an offensive rebound over to Hughes for a putback to make it 44-42.
Hughes fouled Curtis on a drive with 1:19 left. Curtis made the first free throw but missed the second.
Rochester set up their offense. Freshman Matthew Roettger had guarded Stesiak on the top of the key earlier in the quarter, but this time, Townsend had him. Stesiak broke down Townsend with a zigzag dribble and found a cutting Reinartz, who put in a tough finish in traffic with his left hand from underneath the basket and was fouled with 54.9 seconds left. He made the free throw to tie the game.
“We were trying to use Quin and Tarick to flatten out on the baseline and then let those guys take their guy one-on-one, and both did a good job,” Malchow said. “I thought Tarick was great, and I thought Quin did a really good job too.”
RHS utilized a cornucopia of defenses – a 2-3 matchup zone, a more conventional 2-3 zone, a 1-3-1 zone, a 3-2 zone, a man-to-man, a 2-2-1 halfcourt trap and a diamond-in-one halfcourt trap.
Ultimately, the missed free throws were costly, according to coach Eric Thompson.
“It was kind of a double whammy on us,” Thompson said. “We hurt ourselves by missing free throws. We missed three (in the fourth quarter) … and to Rochester’s credit, they scored 21 points and held us to nine. And their halfcourt trap stymied us from being able to score compared to their other defenses. He switched from a 2-2-1 to a diamond-in-one and made the looks different for the kids. And that combo of stuff – them scoring plus their D and us not getting those free throws – allowed them to keep their run going.”
Hughes opened the scoring on a second-chance jumper from the left baseline, but Peru hit four consecutive 3-pointers – two by Townsend, one by Curtis and one by Braxten Robbins – to go up 12-2.
Peru led 21-11 in the second quarter on a Kash Bellar 3-pointer, but RHS closed within 25-19 on a Trenton Reinholt midrange jumper with three seconds left in the half.
Ross had a dunk and later a 3-point play to go up 32-21 in the third. A Ross layup to break Zebra pressure made it 39-28 late in the third before McGlothin found an avenue to the hoop to cut the lead to nine.
“In the second half, when we came out, I thought we adjusted,” Malchow said. “We went to the 1-3-1 and the 3-2 a little bit, and I thought that was working well. But they were being so patient early in the third quarter. We were down 10 or 11, and I’m like, ‘We’ve got to make something happen, or they’ll just hold the ball.’ So that’s why we went to our pressure packages in the halfcourt.”
Reinartz said the trapping defenses got Peru a little “scrambled.”
Still, it was going to take a fourth quarter comeback if they didn’t want to throw the TRC into a free-for-all going into the final week of the regular season.
Rochester also won the JV game 62-37 behind Evan Elliott’s 16 points. Colton Ferverda and Dryden Vance had 10 each, Aaron Huffman had nine, Luke Hunting had six, Brock Bowers and Kaiden Towell had four each, and Hunter Campbell had three.
Rochester 51, Peru 48
PERU (48) (14-6, 6-2)
Kade Townsend 3 0-0 9, Matthew Roettger 0 0-2 0, Treyden Curtis 5 1-2 13, Matt Ross 6 4-6 16, Kash Bellar 2 0-0 5, Braxten Robbins 1 0-0 3, Alex Ross 0 0-0 0, Pete Polk 1 0-0 2
TEAM: 18 5-10 48
ROCHESTER (51) (15-1, 8-0)
Grant McCarter 1 0-0 3, Tarick McGlothin 4 2-2 11, Quin Stesiak 3 4-6 10, Kyle Reinartz 4 3-5 11, Blake Hughes 6 2-2 14, Trenton Reinholt 1 0-0 2, Aidan Smith 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 19 11-15 51
Three-point field goals:
Peru 7 (Townsend 3, Curtis 2, Bellar, Robbins),
Rochester 2 (McGlothin, McCarter)
Total fouls: Peru 15, Rochester 11
Fouled out: Bellar (PERU), :26.4, fourth
Turnovers: Peru 13, Rochester 11
Score by quarters
Peru 16 9 14 9 – 48
Rochester 11 8 11 21 – 51
JV: Rochester 62, Peru 37
Rochester senior forward Kyle Reinartz attempts a free throw in the fourth quarter during a 51-48 win over Peru at the RHS gym Friday night. Reinartz made all three of his free throw attempts in the final 54.9 seconds and scored five of his 11 points in the fourth quarter. (photo by Dee Brown)