Buck rout Wildcats from beyond arc

LEROY — It was the start of a busy week in the final days of the regular season for Pine River and Evart with the Bucks taking a 60-26 Highland Conference girls basketball victory Monday night.

Jamie Justin scored 23 points for the Bucks while Kassy Nelson added 16.

Kortney Dennis and Haley Moore led Evart with eight points apiece.

The Bucks were 8-of-11 in 3-point shooting. Justin netted four triples and Nelson added three.

“The second half, I thought we put it together and shot the ball better,” said Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert. “We put them to the line too many times. We have to stop doing that.”

Justin sank a 3-pointer to open the second half and give the Bucks a 30-14 lead. She hit another triple at 4:06 for a 35-16 advantage. Kassy Nelson’s triple with 34 seconds left in the quarter made it 38-16. Nelson scored at the buzzer for a 40-18 lead.

It was one of her team’s best 3-point shooting efforts of the season, Justin said.

“We had some good open looks,” she said. “They were in a zone. We moved the ball around quick and got open shots.”

Saige Nabozny scored for Evart to open the fourth quarter. Nelson’s 3-point play gave the Bucks a comfortable 43-20 lead with 6:30 to play. The Bucks opened with a 6-0 lead although the Wildcats came back for a 6-6 tie later in the quarter after a basket from Moore. Pine River went on a 7-0 run to end the first quarter.

Justin netted a 3-pointer early in the second quarter for an 18-8 PR lead. Evart continued to struggle offensively and Pine River took advantage with Devyn Powell hitting a layup at the buzzer for a 27-14 lead at the intermission.

“I think we played really well,” Justin said. “At times we didn’t play that good. At other times we did.”

“I thought everybody came in and did a nice job,” Ruppert said. “Cayman Gatt is out. She had surgery on her broken nose. I hope she gets back. We’re down to eight girls.”

In Highland Conference home games Friday night, Pine River is at Manton and Evart at McBain Northern Michigan Christian.

“We’re playing pretty good,” Justin said “We have to pick up on our defense if we expect to beat the better teams.”

Evart is 7-5 in the Highland and 10-7 overall. Pine River improves to 9-3 and 13-5.