LEROY — Pine River’s girls basketball team entered this week with a 17-3 record and junior Julie Justin was playing no small role in her team’s success, which included a Highland Conference title.

She has been leading her team in scoring throughout the season.

“We ran the floor really well and we played good defense,” Justin said. “We’ve been running the floor and getting a lot of fast break layups.”

The Bucks have been dominating their opponents and were ready for a challenge recently in a winning rematch against McBain.

“We have to play defense better than we are, and take good shots,” Justin said prior to that game. “We’ve been aggressive.”

A midseason win over previously unbeaten Lake City was a major confidence booster for the Bucks.

“We’re all back to even in the conference and have a chance to win again,” Justin said prior to a victorious showdown with McBain that sparked the Bucks to the league title.

Against McBain, “we have to run the floor and get back on defense and stop the penetration in the middle,” Justin said prior to that game.

Despite her strong performances so far, “I can play better,” Justin said. “I just need to attack the basket more.” 

The Bucks started off 0-2 and Justin stressed the need for the team to make up for the scoring void following the graduation of all-stater Kassy Nelson. She’s played a key role in fulfilling that need.

“We’re realizing we all have to fill in,” Justin said.

Her cousin, Kierra Justin, has been a force for Pine River’s inside game.

“She’s been playing (well) underneath and playing aggressive, Justin said.

Pine River has district action at McBain this week.