Julie Justin keys Pine River basketball to undefeated start

LEROY — Pine River’s girls basketball team started off its season at 5-0 and senior Julie Justin has been playing no small role in that success.

It’s been a strong one-two punch with Justin and her cousin Kierra Justin, plus other standout players.

But the Bucks proved in a victory over Beal City how talented they were when they won handily despite the absence of Kierra, who had an illness for that particular game.

“We were slow to begin with,” Julie Justin said. “We had to attack the middle more and rely a little more on ourselves. We had to rebound a lot more without her.”

The 5-0 start has included wins over teams like Gladwin, Morley Stanwood and Reed City.

“It’s from playing hard and good defense,” Justin said. “Some of the games could have been better, but I think we’ve done well.”

Virtually everyone is back from last year’s Highland Conference championship team.

Justin indicated her role is the same as last season as a point guard.

The season is going well, but Justin and her teammates are continually looking to improve.

“We can always get better at defense,” she said.

Forcing opponents to take low percentage shots is a key behind that defense, Justin indicated.

The Bucks resume action on Jan. 6 at McBain against an opponent that could give them a serious chase for first place in the Highland.

The Bucks also play at Marion on Jan. 10 and home Jan. 12 against McBain Northern Michigan Christian.