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  • Val T.

‘We had some opportunities to score but couldn’t put it in the hole:’ Prater scores 15, but Zebras’ season ends with sectional loss to Wabash


Sports Editor, RTC

Owen Prater Tanner Reinartz

WALTON — Despite trailing by 11 points in the fourth quarter, the Rochester boys basketball team gave themselves a chance against Wabash in their Class 2A, Sectional 36 quarterfinal at Lewis Cass Tuesday.

Actually, they gave themselves four chances.

Such is the agony of the IHSAA state tournament. The opportunity is a quick moment in time. Fail to take advantage of it, and it is a long offseason of regret.

Ultimately, Wabash made more of their opportunities, getting five 3-pointers and a game-high 21 points from Grant Ford and four 3-pointers and 16 points from Trevor Daughtry in claiming a 56-48 win over the Zebras.

Wabash won their 10th straight game and improved to 18-5. They will play Pioneer, who received a bye, in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday.

Owen Prater scored 15 points and pulled down eight rebounds for Rochester, who finished 15-8.

“We had some opportunities to score but couldn’t put it in the hole,” Rochester coach Rob Malchow said. “Obviously, Wabash had a good game plan defensively, and I thought we did a good job. It was a good game. I mean, it was a two or three-point game right down to the end.”

Rochester has not won a sectional game since winning back-to-back sectional titles in 2020 and 2021.

Wabash made 13 of 15 free throws, including seven of eight in the final 1:10 to secure the win. In contrast, Rochester was five for nine from the line.

Wabash took the lead for good at 29-27 on a driving layup from Daughtry with 1:43 left in the half, and they built the lead to 45-34 on a Ford 3-pointer from the right corner on the first possession of the fourth quarter.

The Zebras would persevere.

Tanner Reinartz, who finished with nine points, hit a 15-footer. Jonas Kiser hit a 3.

After Ford missed a 3, Prater saw Ford turn his head, cut back door down the lane, took a pinpoint pass from Kiser and hit a short runner as Ford fouled him.

He converted the 3-point play. It was 45-42.

Izaak Wright, who came in averaging 16 points per game but who was held to eight, hit a right baseline pullup, but after a timeout, Prater’s driving lefty layup made it 47-44 with 3:29 left.

And then came the opportunities to tie it. Reinartz deflected a pass out of Rochester’s three-quarter court trap, and Dylan Hook recovered it.

Prater kicked to Jack Reffett, who had a look at a potential game-tying 3. It missed, but Hook rebounded. He fed Drew Bowers, who was fouled underneath the basket.

On the ensuing inbounds pass, Bowers found an open Reffett again, but he missed a 3 from just off the corner.

Dinkins missed a two-footer in the lane, and Reffett rebounded.

After a Rochester timeout, Bowers drove from the right baseline and found an open Prater underneath the basket, who had used a Carson Paulik screen to get open. Prater was fouled and split two free throws with 2:08 left. The lead was down to 47-45.

Then came perhaps the best opportunity.

Daughtry advanced the ball along the right sideline and threw a bounce pass to the middle of the floor to advance it, but Paulik deflected it from behind, and Reinartz stole it.

Reinartz threw a bounce pass to Prater near the baseline, and he found Bowers at the opposite block, but Bowers’ potential game-tying three-foot banker missed.

Wabash was then called for a 10-second violation trying to get the ball past halfcourt.

Rochester had a fourth chance to tie the game, but Vogel bothered Prater’s driving runner in the paint and forced a miss.

“I thought we did a decent job,” Wabash coach Paul Wright said of his team’s defense, adding that they were focused on Bowers, Reinartz and Prater.

He added special praise for Prater, who also scored 23 points in a 72-67 loss to Wabash on Feb. 9.

“Prater’s tough,” coach Wright said. “He does so well on the jump stop, and he shot-fakes 100 times. He did a good job drawing four fouls on Grant. He doesn’t get in a lot of foul trouble, but I thought we did a good job on all three, but Trevor’s defense on Bowers was excellent.”

Vogel then hit two free throws, and after a Prater missed a short banker, Alex Dinkins slipped behind the defense for a wide-open layup to make it 51-45.

Reinartz hit a pullup trey from the top of the key, but Wabash iced it thanks to free throw shooting and a Wright block on Reinartz.

“When we missed, we had to foul, and they made their free throws and sealed the game,” Malchow said. “If we hit a 3 … a minute or so earlier, and then get a bucket to get the lead, maybe we’re shooting free throws to close it out instead of them. It was just that kind of game.”

Prater scored seven points in the first quarter to help Rochestter to an 11-10 lead in the first quarter, but Ford hit a 3, and Daughtry hit two treys as Wabash took a 19-11 lead on the 9-0 quarter-ending run.

The Zebras countered with their own nine-point run in the second quarter, holding Wabash scoreless for over three minutes. Robert Bozzo and Kiser hit 3s on back-to-back possessions as Rochester took a 22-21 lead with 4:00 left.

Ford answered right back with a trey.

Reinartz found Hook for a layup to tie it at 24. Ford and Bozzo exchanged treys, and it was tied at 27 again.

“They had five seniors they started, and your seniors are big,” Malchow said. “They’re hungry. They’re strong. They’ve been around this thing. Daughtry and Wright have started for four years. We have some sophomores on the floor playing a bunch and juniors. I thought Robert and Dylan did a good job as seniors, but the difference was their seniors were able to find just enough plays to get the lead and hold on, and we weren’t able to find that niche.”

Wabash 56, Rochester 48

WABASH (56) (18-5)

Trevor Daughtry 6 0-0 16, Kaden Vogel 1 2-2 4, Grant Ford 6 4-4 21, Izaak Wright 1 6-6 8, Alexander Dinkins 3 1-3 7, DaVon Osborn 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 17 13-15 56

ROCHESTER (48) (10-12)

Drew Bowers 3 0-0 6, Carson Paulik 0 0-0 0, Owen Prater 6 3-4 15, Jonas Kiser 3 0-0 8, Tanner Reinartz 3 2-5 9, Dylan Hook 2 0-0 4, Robert Bozzo 2 0-0 6, Grant Clark 0 0-0 0, Jack Reffett 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 19 5-9 48

Three-point field goals:

Wabash 9 (Ford 5, Daughtry 4),

Rochester 5 (Bozzo 2, Kiser 2, Reinartz)

Total fouls: Wabash 11, Rochester 19

Turnovers: Wabash 13, Rochester 9

Score by quarters

Wabash 19 10 13 14 56

Rochester 11 16 7 14 48

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