Nelson earns all-state honors, Highland recognizes area players

LEROY — Seven area girls basketball players were recognized by the Highland Conference for all-league honors.

That includes Kassy Nelson, who also was named  last week to the Class C all-state girls basketball team by the Associated Press.

For the Highland, Pine River’s Julie Justin, Kierra Justin, Nelson and Cheyanna Rizor and Evart’s Mara VanOrder made first-team honors, while Pine River’s Anna Lindquist and Evart’s Kristin Kullman were on the honorable mention list.

Nelson, a senior guard, averaged 23.4 points, 3.5 assists, 6.8 rebounds and 4.3 steals per game. She shot 81 percent in free throws, 38 percent in 3-pointers and 39 percent in field goals.

“She was a great leader for us this year,” Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert said. “Teams played box-and-1 on her many games and she still managed to average 23.4 points. She’s a good rebounder and defender and played well all-around this year.”

“Julie Justin was our point guard and toughest defender all year,” Ruppert said. “She took pressure off Kassy by hitting shots when they left her open. She’s very hard nosed and competitive, and a real team player.”

Kierra Justin, a sophomore center, averaged 8.8 points and 7.8 boards a game. “She improved greatly during the year, but still needs to become more consistent to be the player she is capable of being. She was dominant some games this year.”

Julie Justin, a sophomore guard, averaged 10.3 points, 5.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 3.0 steals per game and was, 37-of-50 in free throws (74 percent) and 16-of-51 in 3-pointers (31 percent).

Rizor, a center forward, averaged 5.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game.

“She does all the things on defense that makes us successful but does not have any offensive stats that really stand out,” Ruppert said. “She was our captain and worked hard every day.”

VanOrder, a junior, averaged 10 points, 14.2 rebounds and 2.28 steals per game.

“She is relentless on the boards, has a nose for the ball,” Evart coach Paul Higgins said. “She is very driven to succeed as an individual and for team success. Mara is going to have a huge role next year in her senior season.”

Kullman, a senior, averaged 13.71 points an 3.76 rebounds, and shot 35 percent overall from the field. She had games of 27, 26, 24, 21 and 26.

“She has worked relentlessly on her game offensively since last season, and that hard work paid off with a great senior season,” Higgins said. “Kristin’s scoring is going to be hard to replace.”

Lindquist, a sophomore forward, averaged 5.0 points, 1.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds a game. “She’s a quiet leader by the way she hustles up and down the floor,” Higgins said. “She improved her offensive game and will continue to improve it because she is such a hard worker.”