Bucks coast past Evart

ACTION: Evart’s Kameron VanScoyoc (12) goes to the basket against Pine River. (Herald Review/John Raffel)
ACTION: Evart’s Kameron VanScoyoc (12) goes to the basket against Pine River. (Herald Review/John Raffel)

EVART – Smarting from their first loss of the season, the Pine River Bucks decided to take it out on the Evart Wildcats on Thursday night.

Lincoln Erickson scored 18 points and brought down 11 rebounds, igniting Pine River to early leads of 22-4 after the first quarter and 39-17 at halftime en route to a 70-48 Highland Conference victory.

Pine River, ranked 10th in last week’s Class C Associated Press poll, had suffered its first loss of the season to Beal City the previous Friday night.

“We told the guys all week it was time to get refocused and move on,” said Bucks coach Brian Goodenow. “It was kind of unfortunate to have a full week off between games like that. That will give us more time to work on things in practice, too.”

From the opening tip, the Bucks had things going their way, firing out to an 8-0 lead. Tyler Lewis netted a 3-pointer to ignite the Bucks attack. Joey Bowman had two key steals which led to five points. Erickson added six points in the quarter.

“We just came off a tough loss so it was hard for us to get into the groove,” Bowman said. “We didn’t rebound or play helpside defense at all. 9-1 is a good thing but we need to step it up.”

Lewis added another triple and Erickson had five points in the second quarter to ignite the Bucks to their halftime advantage.

“We got off to a great start in the first quarter,” Goodenow said. “Then it’s like we took our foot off the pedal a good chunk of the game. We warn our guys that you have to play at that same level all the time. It’s great they come out of the gate like that but you have to maintain it.”

Jacob Fortune scored for Evart to open the second half. The Wildcats opened the half with a 10-4 run.

Lucas Harris scored at 3:20 to give the Bucks a 46-27 lead. Bowman’s baseliner gave his team a 52-31 lead at the one-minute mark of the third. It was 52-33 going into the final quarter.

Skyler Nelson netted a triple early in the fourth to keep the Bucks in control. Jared Pattee had a pair of baskets to cut the lead to 66-45 with four minutes to play.

Pine River’s sophomore Mitchell McDonald did not start due to illnesses. But he hit 3-of-4 free throws, following a technical on Evart at 3:03 for a 64-45 lead.

“I told the guys you can fall behind by 20 and play with a team for the rest of the game and play with them but you still lose by 20,” said Evart coach Kris Morgan. “It was another slow start.”

Pattee led Evart with nine points. Jacob Hopkins had six rebounds and Nate Struble had five for the Wildcats.

Devin Ruppert contributed eight rebounds and five assists for the Bucks. Evart, 3-6 overall and 2-3 in the league, is home Tuesday against McBain Northern Michigan Christian.

“We have to work through our offense,” Morgan said. “We can’t put our head down and drive and try to create something. You have to facilitate and not try to create.”