MORLEY — Pine River protected a late-game lead with clock-cutting measures to make it 3-0 this season against Evart in a 42-35 Class C district semifinal boys basketball win (March 10) at Morley Stanwood.

Pine River advanced to the title game against Lakeview and won. The season ended for Evart.

Pine River (13-8) defeated Evart (9-12) twice during the regular season including on March 2, 58-50 and 61-59 in January.

“I don’t necessarily buy the saying it’s hard to beat a team three times,” Pine River coach Brian Goodenow said. “But it is hard to beat a tough team that’s scrappy and brings their best against you and that’s what Evart does.”

Pine River’s Tristen Nelson hit two 3-pointers and Trevin Ladd and Carter Pritchard hit one for Evart in the first quarter, which ended in a 12-12 tie. Mason Powell, who didn’t score in the first quarter, hit four field goals in the second to ignite the Bucks to a 24-19 lead at the intermission.

“We had a hard time scoring,” Evart coach Kris Morgan said. “Our goal was to hold them around 50. But we had a hard time putting the ball in the basket. The shots we normally hit weren’t falling.”

Evart’s leading scorer all season, Danny Griffin, guarded by Powell, did not score in the first half and got his first points early in the third quarter on a 3-point play. He wound up with five points.

“Mason and Danny have a long history and are close friends, but are quite competitive against each other,” Goodenow said. “Mason wanted to guard Danny and did a good job keeping him in check.”

“Mason played great defense on him,” Nelson said. “Mason knew what he had to do.”

“I just wanted to move my feet and not let him get the ball,” Powell said. “He’s one of the purest shooters I’ve seen.”

Cody Pritchard’s 3-pointer at 5:08 of the third put Evart in front 27-26. But Powell continued to score well with nine third quarter points and the Bucks were up 38-32 going into the fourth.

Evart’s shooting woes continued in the fourth and the Bucks took advantage. The Bucks slowed it down midway in the quarter with a 40-32 lead.

The Wildcats started getting some steals and took advantage on Jericho VanScoyoc’s 3-pointer to make it 40-35 at 1:30. The Bucks continued to pass the ball around in a clock-cutting effort.

Powell grabbed a defensive rebound with 36.6 seconds to play. He hit one free throw for a 41-35 lead. Trevin Ladd missed on a 3-point try. Hunter Esiline missed a free throw at the other end, but the Wildcats couldn’t take advantage. Matt Stone sealed the win with 6.4 seconds left with a free throw.

“We just couldn’t get over the hump,” Morgan said.

Ladd had 10 points for Evart. Powell netted 20 and Nelson had 13 for Pine River.

“Mason has such an arsenal,” Goodenow said, “and is able to come up with some nice shooting.”