Mohawks overcome scoreless third quarter to defeat Pine River

LEROY – It was a game for the defenses and Morley Stanwood  prevailed Friday night in non-conference girls basketball action, 42-33, over Pine River.

The Bucks had a 5-0 advantage in a cold-shooting third quarter for both teams. But the Mohawks came back with a 17-point fourth frame.

Both teams were 1-0 entering the game.

Lindsey Veersma scored 17 points while Mallory Raven added 10 for the Mohawks, who had a 46-31 rebounding edge. Mekayla Carey and Jennie Kizer had 11 rebounds apiece.

“I told (Veersma) in the locker room after the game that she stepped up in the fourth quarter especially,” said Morley Stanwood coach and Pine River alum Bob Raven. “She’s only a junior but got a ton of playing experience last year. We needed her to do that if we’re going to win games like that.”

The Mohawks were up 25-21 at halftime. But a three by Julie Justin and drive by Michelle Kelsey gave the Bucks a one-point lead early in the third.

The Mohawks struggled to hit their shots and the Bucks took advantage for the lead. But neither team’s offense could click in the quarter, which ended in a 26-25 Bucks lead.

“I told the girls, we put a doughnut up and we’re still only down by one,” Raven said. “It hasn’t happened a lot in my coaching career when we get shut out in a quarter. We had some decent looks. We had a breakaway layup. We couldn’t get the lid off.”

“We just didn’t score either,” said  Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert while admitting he was happy with his defense blanking the Mohawks for eight minutes.

Veersma scored at 6:30 for Morley Stanwood’s first points of the second half and a 27-26 lead. She followed with two free throws moments later. But Kassy Nelson’s triple for Pine River tied the game 29-29 with 5:55 to play

Veersma’s baseliner helped the Mohawks regain the lead moments later. Raven’s basket at 4:30 made it a four-point lead. Veersma’s two free throws made it a 35-29 game with 3:18 to play before Page Esiline netted a layup at the other end. But Veersma countered with a layup for a critical 37-31 lead. The Bucks had their chances to cut the lead but couldn’t convert.

But with 43.6 seconds to play, Michelle Kelsey’s jumper cut the lead to 37-33 and the Bucks started to foul. Kizer put the game away with two free throws at the 22-second mark for a 39-33 lead and the Mohawks came up with a defensive steal moments later.

“I thought we got a lot of good looks tonight but just didn’t hit,” Ruppert said. “Defense has a lot of do with it. Neither team scored a lot until we started fouling them at the end.”

Veersma scored six points in the first quarter to ignite the Mohawks to the lead 16-10. Jennie Kizer scored underneath in the second quarter to give her team a 20-14 bulge before Kassy Nelson sank a trey for the Bucks to make it a 3-point game. Mallory Raven scored off her own steal and it was 25-19 late in the half.

Nelson had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Bucks who also got eight boards from Cheyanna Rizor. Julie Justin and Nelson had three assists apiece.

Pine River is home against McBain Friday night.