Justin cousins power Pine River past Coyotes

REED CITY — Girls basketball action continues with games on Friday when Evart hosts Pine River and Reed city entertains Newaygo.

Reed City handed Pine River a season-opening loss in last year’s first game between the two non-league girls basketball rivals.

This time, on Nov. 30, it was Pine River’s turn.

Cousins Kierra Justin and Jamie Justin scored 18 points apiece in a 59-42 win for the Bucks over Reed City in the first game of the season for both teams on Tuesday.

Kierra Justin hit her first four shots inside and Julie added a 3-pointer in the first quarter for a 22-13 Pine River advantage.

Emily Libey had five points to keep the Coyotes close.

Julie Justin hit a 3-pointer and Alexis Bennett followed with a basket for a 29-13 lead midway in the second. Alyssa Olds had five points in the quarter for the Coyotes, who trailed 35-19 at halftime.

“We have to find a (No. 5) player to help us,” Reed City coach Brian Koopman said. “We came out flat, we didn’t have the energy and intensity despite playing at home. I’ll be honest with you, our girls don’t like playing at home. We have a lot of young kids come in who never played varsity.”

Kierra and Julie Justin both had baskets to open the third for a 39-19 lead.

Alanna Nelson netted a 3-pointer for the Coyotes to make it 40-22. Kamryn Myers’ triple cut the Bucks lead to 42-25 with a minute left in the third. Libey’s 3-pointer cut the gap to 44-28 after three quarters.

The Coyotes cut the lead to 12 early in the fourth. But Pine River led 51-34 at 4:50 when Anna Lindquist scored off her own steal. Anselma Barnett’s two free throws gave the Bucks a 55-36 lead at 4:02. Julie Justin’s two free throws made it 57-37 at 2:57.

“I thought we played well for a few spurts,” Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert said. “We had that bad spurt in the third quarter where we gave up three or four baskets in a row. We’ve got enough experience so hopefully that won’t happen. We should be able to handle that situation better than we did.”

Also for Pine River, Goodman added six points, Barnett had five points and six rebounds. Logan Powell had three steals.

Libey had 14 points for Reed City while Olds had 13 and Nelson 10.

“I only have two returning starters,” Koopman said. “Pine River has everyone back. We were with them a little bit. That’s experience vs. youth. We were with them a little bit and they went on a run on us in the first quarter.  We didn’t recover from that and that was pretty much the difference in the game.”

Ruppert acknowledged that teams will try to focus on Kierra Justin with her dominance in the post.

“She is a good passer and does a good job of getting it off,” Ruppert said. “I would like to be able to go to Kierra every time. I know that’s not realistic. But she knows what to do.”

“In the second half, we got our defense cranked up and created a lot of turnovers and had some easy shots,” Koopman said. “A big focus will be getting our man-to-man defense going and try to get some fast breaks scoring and hopefully score.”