Bucks opened season Monday with win against Harrison

LEROY – Mitchell McDonald passed his freshman test as a member of the Pine River varsity basketball team with flying colors.

Now he’s ready to demonstrate how much he’s progressed as a sophomore.

The Bucks opened their season Monday at Harrison with a win 87-36. They also have a non-league game Dec. 6 at Brethren.

McDonald comes into the basketball season at virtual full health. He had struggled through injuries that curtailed his football season to a certain extent.

“We’ve been conditioning a lot, and working on our ball skills, getting everything back,” he said. “The main thing is we want to be in shape and we want to be able to run against teams.”

McDonald had mixed emotions about his performance on the varsity as a freshman.

“I was happy and sad,” he said. “I feel we had the team to win districts, maybe regionals. Coach (Scott) Benson) was a good coach and I miss him, but I’m happy with my coach (Brian Goodenow) now. Overall, it was a good season, I love basketball.”

With a new coach, “he motivates us really well,” McDonald said. “I’m excited. We’re doing different offenses and defenses. He’s really getting us in shape because we’re playing up-tempo this year. We have the speed.”

McDonald is still looking to define his role.

“I’ll do whatever my coach wants me to,” he said. “I was point guard last year and I love point guard. My (back) injury set me back, l but I feel I’m a little faster and a little stronger.”

McDonald wants to improve at using his left hand and at shooting and in his mentaility of the game.

“If I miss a shot, I want to be able to shake that off and go to the next one,”

McDonald has high hopes for his team.

“We’ve got some size, we’ve got some speed,” he said. “We’ll be a contender in the HIghland Conference this year. I feel we can beat  them all. We’ve got the guys to beat them.”

LINCOLN ERICKSON

The 6-foot-5 senior has maintained his height over the years and still maintains an intimidating presence inside. He’s been 6-5 since his freshman season. It’s his fourth varsity season.

“My sophomore year was probably the best so far,” Erickson said. ”My junior year, we got a little out of whack. We didn’t play that well as a team.”

Erickson focused on weight lifting and weight training during the offseason, plus speed and agility drills

“I want to be a better athlete in general,”he said. “I probably put three hours in the gym every day. It was to be a bigger, strong athlete in the post.”

With a new coach, “I think we’ve going to see a lot more rotation of guys,” Erickson said. “This year, I’ll be the go-to big guy. Last  year, we had Hunter (Powell). He’s switched schools. He’s at McBain. On the teams I’ve played on, whether it’s high school or AAU, I’ve always played post. It think it will play to my advantage being the only post player.”

Erickson has been focusing on his quickness.

“I think we’ll be a way better team than last year,” he said. “Last year, we didn’t have any team chemistry. This year, our team chemistry is better.”

Erickson is confident his team can win the Highland Conference.

“We have to play together and keep a team under 50 points, that’s our goal,” he said. “I think McBain will be good but they’re nothing we can’t handle.”