Nelsons making their case on the court

LEROY — It’s not often that freshman or sophomores play a huge role on their high school basketball team.

But then there’s the Nelsons at Pine River.

Skyler Nelson, a sophomore, is a key starter on the Bucks’ varsity boys team and was brought up to the varsity halfway through his freshman season.

For the girls varsity , freshman Kassy Nelson is second on the team at 10.1 points per game.

As of midweek, Pine River’s boys were 9-5 and the girls were 10-5.

The Bucks’ most recent boys basketball win was 56-25 over Farwell.

“I’m way more confident than I was,” Nelson said, “recalling his freshman season when he stepped up to the varsity. I’m way more confident than I was. This year, I’ve had to step up a little bit.”

Nelson has had various duties including scoring and distributing.

“I can play better, I know that,” he said. “I can score more points.”

A victory over Evart earlier this season may have been one of his team’s best games, Nelson said.

“We want to really start getting after it,” he said. “We want to get ready for districts. That’s when it really counts. We have to play four quarters. We can’t have a quarter where we don’t play.”

The Pine River girls are also hoping to play their best basketball in the remaining weeks of the season.

“Our defense got a little sloppy in the fourth quarter,” Kassy Nelson said after a recent Pine River win over Marion. “We always work as a team and try to end up with the best win we can get.”

She’s still shining as a freshman.

“After this summer, I knew she could be a good player,” Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert said. “She’s played well the past several games.”

Her sister, Chelsea Nelson, is a key senior on the team. Kassy acknowledges that the two sisters have two unique contrasting styles.

“Chelsea and I are very different basketball players,” Kassy said. “I am more run-and-go she’s more of a rebounding, post player.”

The Bucks have enjoyed a strong season for the girls although Kassy admits that when her team gets out to a huge lead, it’s been easy at times to lose the intensity level at various portions of the game.

“We always work as a team and try to end up with the best win we can get,” she said. “I feel like I’m working real hard and am improving as an individual and helping my team get farther in the season.”

Nelson considers herself an all-around player but she’s been boosting her team with outside shooting in recent games. She adds that defense has been her No. 1 strength.

“I’m working on shooting,” she said. “My feet, I have to get them quicker and get my release a lot faster so I can get above the girls and get the shot off a lot quicker.”

The Bucks trail only McBain and Manton in league standings and wouldn’t mind making some upward moves in upcoming weeks.

“We’re playing pretty well,” Kassy said. “We’re improving every day of practice and working very hard.”