Bucks clinch title tie with win over Evart
EVART — Pine River clinched a title tie while Jamie Justin passed the 1,000-point career mark Thursday night in a 58-13 Highland Conference girls basketball victory over Evart.
The Bucks, with a 12-0 Highland Conference record and 16-1 mark, have won 16 straight games and are guaranteed at least a first-place tie with two games to play.
Pine River is ranked fifth this week in the Associated Press Class C state poll.
Justin had 11 points in the first quarter and Devyn Powell added seven to key the Bucks to a 27-4 lead. Justin also scored eight points in the second quarter and Pine River led 39-8 at halftime.
“We wanted to come out aggressive and rebound,” said Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert. “If you get sloppy on defense or lazy on rebounding, that’s when you get into trouble. I thought we did a really nice job on the boards.”
Justin hit two straight in the third quarter to give her team a 49-12 lead.
“I thought our pressure was good in the first quarter,” Ruppert said. “That gets us going every game. We usually get off to a pretty good start with our press.”
Justin scored 21 points and had four assists. Haley Raymond grabbed eight rebounds and Erica Buchner added four steals.
Kassy Nelson and Powell had nine points apiece.
“We need to work on some things. We played good for the most part,” Justin said. “We can pretty much work on everything.”
Evart falls to 5-10 overall and 4-7 in the league.
“Going in, we knew we’d have a tough game (Thursday),” said Evart coach Larry Brown. “Our focus was to keep our composure.”
Saige Nabozny led Evart with five points.
The regular season ends this week for both teams.
Pine River was at home Tuesday with Beal City, at Manistee Wednesday and home Friday with Manton.
Evart is home with McBain Northern Michigan Friday.
“That’s a big week for us,” Brown said. “If we win (Tuesday and Friday), we can take fourth place in the conference.”