Evart, Pine River set for district match up

EVART — The regular seasons ended for both Evart and Pine River’s boys basketball teams last week.

One of those two squads won’t be playing after Wednesday. They meet each other at Beaverton in a Class C district semifinal game on Wednesday. The winner plays for the title Friday night.

Evart finished the regular season at 8-10. The Wildcats improved to 9-10 with a district first-round win against Farwell on Monday. They did not play a scheduled game last Thursday against McBain.

“We were going to play Saturday but I guess the way the conference came out, we didn’t need to play,” said Evart coach Kris Morgan.

Beating Pine River would put Evart at 10-10. Morgan admitted to having mixed emotions to an 8-10 regular season mark

“Going into the season, if you had said we’ll finish 8-10, it would be a disappointment,” Morgan said. “Considering we lost (Jacob) Hopkins the second game of the year (to a season-ending injury) and considering we didn’t have a whole squad for a lot of the year... we talked about how the (Farwell) game would be a barometer of success.”

The Wildcats had played Farwell early in the season, but it came when Hopkins was on the team and when Chris Garner was playing his first game, Morgan pointed out. Robert Tapling, now an Evart varsity starter, was on the JV at that time.

Pine River coach Brian Goodenow expects a very competitive district. Beaverton plays Sanford Meridian in the other bracket semifinal on Wednesday. Beaverton is 19-2 after winning 57-56 against Beal City on Monday in the district opener. Sanford Meridian beat Coleman 66-35 and will play its Jack Pine Conference rival on Wednesday. Both teams are 18-2.

“We haven’t seen Beaverton, but have scouted them,” Goodenow said. “(Sanford-Meridian) won their conference by a game over Beaverton. There’s some very tough teams over there. It’s a very competitive district. We’ll have to take care of business on Wednesday and see what happens.”

Pine River’s most recent game was a 59-58 win Thursday over Beal City to end the Highland season at 14-0.

Schroeder Vanderhoof led Pine River with 14 points while Skyler Nelson put in 13 points and Greg Park added 11.

“We didn’t play well the first half at all,” Goodenow said. “We had some defensive breakdowns which is very uncharacteristic of us and gave up a lot of points in the first quarter. We were down by 11 at the half. We made some defensive changes and picked up the intensity and made our charge in the third quarter and came to within one point.”

The game came down to the end. With less than eight seconds to play and Beal up by a point, the Aggies had a player at the free-throw line who missed the front end of a one-and-one.

“Mitchell McDonald got the rebound and took it the length of the floor, did a 360 spin in the lane and laid it in with just under two seconds to go to get the win,” Goodenow said.