Esiline hopes to give basketball team spark in upcoming games

LEROY —  Hunter Esiline continues to play a key role for a Pine River boys basketball team that entered this week at 7-6.

The Bucks have been posting some wins lately. In late January, they lost to nonleague rival Reed City despite a strong start.

“In the first half, we pushed the ball well,” Esiline said. “In the second half, that just shut off. (Reed City) was physical. We weren’t playing as good of D as we should have. They were hitting threes and we weren’t closing out like we needed to and stopping them in the middle of the lane.”

It was still a good game, Esiline acknowledged, to toughen his team up for upcoming Highland Conference tests.

“We have to stop the dribble drive and box out,” Esiline said. “It’s like any other game. We just have to do it all better.”

Esiline is a junior and said after the Reed City game he could be playing better, especially with early foul trouble. Avoiding foul trouble is an obvious key, he said.

Rebounding has been a key role for Esiline.

“All of us have to score more,” he said. “We’re missing easy shots, a lot from myself.”

Esiline scored 10 points in the Reed City game, but said he was capable of more.

“We need to have more all-around scoring,” he said.

This Friday, the Bucks are home against McBain Northern Michigan Christian.

“We’re definitely capable of a district or conference win,” Esiline said. “We just have to play like Pine River basketball. We have to keep it up. We can’t keep letting teams get on us.”