Bucks celebrate district triumph

LEROY — If any team ever proved it’s tough to be defeated by an opponent three times in one season, it’s the Pine River girls basketball squad.

Especially based on what happened at the Class C districts in Mesick last week, the Bucks seem to be up for any challenge that comes their way.

Last week in the Class C districts at Mesick, Pine River defeated McBain on Wednesday 48-42 in the semifinals. The Bucks had beaten Mesick earlier in the week.

In the finals on Friday, Pine River topped Manton 51-46. Manton and McBain both defeated Pine River twice in Highland Conference action.

Miranda Nelson led Pine River with 23 points against Manton and Jamie Justin added 10.

Ruppert considered the victory over Manton perhaps even more impressive than the win over McBain because the first victory “was such an emotional win. To be able to come back two days later and be ready for it was big. We played Monday, Wednesday and Friday last week so we couldn’t practice for McBain or Manton that much. I was really pleased the way we came out on Friday.”

Justin scored 14 points in the win against McBain while Molly Motzer had 11.

“We shot the ball well both games and it was our defense,” Ruppert said. “We made some adjustments after watching the film. The girls did it.”

Two starters who played key roles last week for the Bucks are sophomores Cayman Gatt and Haley Raymond. Both are first year players. Raymond had eight points in the win over McBain.

“At first, it took me awhile to catch up with the pace of everything,” Raymond said. “I fit in pretty good now and I really like it.”

Raymond said rebounding has been her main role.

Last week “we moved the ball a lot, we were shooting good and we really worked as a team,” Raymond said. “That’s really important. We were very confident. We hate to lose.”

Gatt has focused on defense and running the floor. She credited defense to her team’s championship week.

It was disappointing, Raymond admitted, not to win the conference.

“I think we learned a lot from it,” Raymond said. “We learned what we did wrong. We came out and got them after that.”

“We have to keep working together and play good defense,” said Gatt who plays forward and point guard.

Pine River, 18-5, faced Kalkaska, 21-1, on Tuesday in the regionals. The winner plays Thursday night at Kalkaska against Johannesburg-Lewiston, 13-10, or Harbor Springs, 18-4, in the regional title game.

“They’re a good team,” Ruppert said of Kalkaska. “We scrimmaged them in the preseason. So we know a lot of what they’re doing. I’m sure they changed some things.”

“We want to go out there, give it our all and play the best we can,” Raymond said.