Pine River girls enjoy regional semifinal victory

BEAL CITY — Pine River’s girls basketball team had a memorable regional win last week.

The Highland Conference and Class C district champs defeated Montabella 65-30 in the regional semifinal game at Beal City on March 7.

Pine River played Hemlock in Thursday’s regional title game (see related story). The season ends for Montabella (9-15) and Shelby (18-5), which lost 70-45 to Hemlock in the other regional semifinal.

“We played pretty good, but there are definitely things we could do better,” Pine River starting senior Anna Lindquist said. “We have to play more aggressively on defense.”

Kierra Justin asserted her inside presence in the early going. The Bucks led 16-6 after the first quarter. Justin’s putback early in the second made it 20-6. She had other putbacks later in the quarter for the Bucks, who led 25-9 at one stage. It was 31-17 at halftime.

“We were pretty disciplined,” Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert said. “We fouled a little bit too much in the first half and put them to the line. I told them at halftime we needed to quit fouling. Then we did a good job of that.”

“I thought we played well and in spite of all the fouls we had early, we fought through it,” Julie Justin said. “In the second half, we played a lot better.”

Logan Powell netted a 3-pointer and KayLee Goodman followed with a layup for a 38-19 lead. Julie Justin’s 3-point play made it 44-20 late in the quarter. It was 51-25 after the third period.

Julie Justin scored at 6:18 of the fourth for a 57-28 lead. She dribbled to KayLee Goodman for a layup and 31-point lead moments later. Taylor Hill’s lay-in made it 61-28 at 5:25.

Both Justins scored 16 points. Kierra had 17 rebounds and Julie five assists. Goodman added 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Madi Cutler had 11 points for Montabella.