Justin reflects on 1,000 points

LEROY — Julie Justin didn’t quite end her Pine River girls basketball career the way she wanted.

The Bucks lost 60-55 to Hemlock in the Class C regional title game. She fouled out late in the game and the Bucks weren’t able to pull it out in the final seconds.

During the district tournament, Justin passed the 1,000-point career mark. She joined three other Pine River girls in having reached that plateau, including her mother Paula, and older sister Jamie.

“I’m really happy I made it because both my mom and my sister made it,” Justin said.

The other Pine River player to have passed 1,000 points was Kassy Nelson.

The Bucks were Highland Conference and Class C district champs and finished with a 22-3 record.

“In the second half of the season, we’ve been playing a lot better,” Justin said. Winning a regional title was a goal.

“We’ll have to play hard on defense and smart on offense,” Justin said prior to the game

She will be playing college basketball at Mid Michigan Community College. It was a fun season with the Bucks. It was her fourth varsity season.

Justin put the Bucks in excellent position to win the regional before fouling out.

“Down the stretch, she’s usually the one who has the ball,” Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert said. “So that hurt us. Not having Julie out there had a lot to do (with late-game turnovers).”

Hemlock coach Scott Neumeyer concurred Justin’s presence had a key impact for Pine River’s success.

Julie Justin scored 22 and her cousin Kierra Justin had 17 points for Pine River in the setback.

“Pine River is a heckuva team,” Neumeyer said. “(Julie Justin) can really shoot the ball, we knew that.”

Last week, Justin earned honorable mention honors all state in Class C from the Associated Press.