Rochester holds off Cavs

CULVER — After Mickella Hardy exploded for 23 points Saturday, Rochester’s defense made her a point of emphasis headed into Culver.
The Lady Zebras held the 5-11 freshman forward to 2 of 5 from the field and just five points, and Rochester’s veteran squad held off the young Cavaliers late for a 47-41 victory at John R. Nelson Gymnasium Wednesday night in a make up of a snow-out Tuesday.
“She was number one on our scouting report,” said Rochester Head Girls Basketball Coach Tony Stesiak. “I thought our post as a group did a tremendous job on her. We didn’t really give her any good looks. She was the focal point of our defense to kind of swarm and have good team defense. That also helps with rotating the bodies. Being able to keep fresh bodies on her was big, I thought, and maybe wore her out a little bit.”
“Against a zone, we have a problem getting the ball into the paint. But when we’re in man-to-man and they’re playing behind us I want to get her the ball,” said Culver head coach Tony Scheub. “She’s shooting 52 percent from the field. We talked about that before the game, that we wanted to get her the ball more. She’s got to get the ball more.”
With Rochester’s 2-3 zone denying the blocks, Culver (4-3) scuffled to a 15-for-40 clip from the floor, but the Zebras (4-1) offense fared even worse from the field with a 14-for-47 conversion rate in a start-and-stop game that featured a combined 49 turnovers and 32 fouls by both teams.
Rochester boasted the better numbers at the line, however, with an eight free-throw advantage as the Zebras finished 15 for 23 from the stripe compared to a 7-for-15 effort from the Cavs. Rochester went 11 for 16 from the line in the first half alone, including a 5-for-7 spurt during an 11-2, 3:42 stretch at the end of the second quarter that began with a technical on the Culver bench and a pair of freebies from Rochester senior guard Abbie Malchow.
The result was a 26-17 halftime lead for the visitors, who never trailed in the second half en route to the win.
“I was obviously not very pleased with the officiating in the first half,” said Scheub. “I wasn’t saying that we weren’t fouling them, I thought we were getting fouled on the other end, too, and that’s what I wanted. I know that we foul, but we’ve got to do a better job at keeping our players in front. That’s more important than what the officials do, and we didn’t do a good job of that. We fouled jump shooters three or four times in the first half. We’ve been doing that a lot this year so far, and that drives me nuts.”
“I could tell both teams were frustrated. It’s unfortunate in this day and age that we have to play with two officials, and sometimes that’s a product of the postponements, but the way the game is going, both boys and girls, it’s tough on the officials, it’s tough on the kids,” said Stesiak. “Obviously, Coach Scheub got frustrated, I got frustrated, the players were. It was kind of tough to find a flow to this game.”
Culver still had chances late in the game, though.
Sophomore captain Kayla Shaffer grabbed a steal at the halfcourt for a transition layup to cut the Zebras’ lead to three at 41-38 at the 3:07 mark of the fourth, but after the two teams trade turnovers, a Breanna Paulik layup stretched Rochester’s lead back to 43-38. Shaffer pilfered another steal when Culver point guard Tatum Schultz jabbed a ball loose on the next possession, and Shaffer split a pair of free throws on the resulting foul on the breakaway to cut the lead back to four at 43-39 with 2:04 to go.
A missed layup and a turnover by Culver led to a putback by Malchow to push the lead back to 45-39. Schultz iced a pair of freebies in the double bonus with 28 seconds left to bring the Cavs within four once more at 45-41, but Rochester guard Riley Holland responded with a one and one with 18 seconds to go to bring the score to its final margin and seal the Culver loss.
“I thought our kids handled it well, and I thought they should’ve. We have four seniors, and tight games should favor the more veteran team,” Stesiak said. “Culver gave us everything we wanted. Young teams can play without pressure, without expectations, but for our kids when we can kind of spread the floor and get a lead with the guards we have… to have the kind of ball handlers we have if we can get a lead and spread the floor late, we’re still working on it, it’s not perfect, but we think we can be pretty dangerous if we can get a lead late.”
“I think we played eight good minutes that game. I think the first three quarters were awful, but that last eight minutes was a totally different team,” said Scheub. “We kind of stepped it up a notch. We were executing on offense a little bit better. I see the potential, I see where they can be. I don’t think they do yet, though. I told them, the three games we lost we’re in them, and those are good teams. And we had a chance to win tonight.”
Culver was paced by Shaffer, who led all scorers with 20 points — including back-to-back 3s to cut Rochester’s lead to five late in the third quarter — in addition to a balanced five steals on defense. Her aggressive play landed her in foul trouble several times at the game and put her out of position on the defensive end, however, and Scheub said there’s still work to be done with the sophomore guard/ forward.
“She’s a work in progress for us. She plays so hard for us sometimes she plays out of control, and that’s what we’re working on with her,” he said. “Sometimes when she gets too hyped up, she does silly things. She takes a quick shot when her adrenaline’s flowing or she makes a silly foul. Today I had to yell at her a few times because she’s the captain of our team, she’s the most experienced kid, and when she’s doing those things the other kids are going to do it.”
Rochester was led offensively by Malchow, who finished with 18 points, including big quarter-ending buckets in the second and third frames.
“She’s huge, she sets everything for us,” said Stesiak. “She gets us going offensively. At the end, she’s getting kids at the right spots defensively. She’s just a leader. She wants the ball in clutch times. She’s fearless in the moment, and she’s maybe the most competitive kid I’ve ever coached, the most focused kid I’ve ever coached, and you feel good when the game is late and the ball is in her hands.”
Rochester moves to 4-1 with its second straight win, while Culver slides to 4-3 after going win-loss-win-loss-win-loss in its last six contests. The Cavs open their Northern State Conference schedule with a road game at Bremen Saturday. Tip-off is slated for 2:30 p.m.
At Culver
Score by quarters
Rochester: 9 26 34 47
Culver: 8 17 27 41
ROCHESTER (47): Rylee Holland 1 7-8 9, Alanie Sroufe 3 2-2 8, Kaelee Smith 0 0-0 0, Abbie Malchow 6 4-5 18, Breanne Paulik 2 1-2 5, Jenna Crispen 0 1-4 1, Lindsay Mitchell 0 0-0 0, Riley Pfeiffer 0 0-0 0, Leighnee Smith 2 0-0 4, Reann Hunter 1 0-2 2, Kali Murphy 0 0-0 0; Totals: 15 15-23 47.
CULVER (41): Ali Overmyer 0 0-0 0, Abby James 1 2-2 4, Tatum Schultz 4 3-6 12, Angel Lewellen 0 0-0 0, Donna Zehner 0 0-0 0, Mickella Hardy 2 1-2 5, Kayla Shaffer 8 1-5 20, Breanna Powers 0 0-0 0; Totals: 15 7-15 41.
3-pointers: Rochester 2 (Malchow 2), Culver 4 (Shaffer 3, Schultz 1); Turnovers: Rochester 25, Culver 24; Rebounds: Rochester 38 (Sroufe 7), Culver 21 (Hardy 7); Assists: Rochester 3 (Holland, Sroufe, Paulik), Culver 8 (Schultz 4); Steals: Rochester 8 (Holland 3), Culver 15 (Schultz 6, Shaffer 5); Fouls (fouled out): Rochester 14 (Hunter), Culver 18 (none).
Records: Rochester 4-1, Culver 4-3
JV score: Rochester 52 (Riley Pfeiffer 16), Culver 19 (Lonnia Montgomery 9)