Pine River boys reflect on championship season

LEROY — Three Pine River boys basketball players, who played a key role in a Class C boys district championship season, have earned all-league status from the Highland Conference

Seniors Mason Powell and Hunter Esiline were on the first team and senior Tristen Nelson was on the honorable mention list. Powell also was named to the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan all-state team honorable mention list.

Powell averaged 16.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Esiline was at 11.5 points and 7.9 rebounds a game. Nelson recorded 8.2 points and 5.0 rebounds a game.

“All three of those guys were real good senior leaders,” Pine River coach Brian Goodenow said. “They’re role models for kids in our community. They’re all great students as well as athletes. They made a lot of valuable contributions to our program.”

Powell was a three-year varsity player. The others were on varsity two seasons apiece. All three had their best seasons, Goodenow indicated.

“Tristen was point guard most of the time, so he had responsibility for trying to make things happen,” Goodenow said. “That freed up Mason to be more of a shooting guard this year. That’s why he led us in scoring.

“Hunter was our second leading rebounder and our second leading scorer.”

Pine River was 14-9 this season. Most of the players were on the football team that played until mid-November in the state semifinal. Practices started several days later than normal.

“It was a little bit of a roller coaster ride,” Goodenow said. “We got off to a little bit of a slow start. It took us awhile to jell. Once we did, I thought we played good basketball. The guys showed a lot of determination heading into postseason. It ended up being a nice postseason.”

The Bucks beat Evart and Lakeview on back-to-back nights for their first district in four years.

“We take a lot of pride in coming away with that district title,” Goodenow said. “The Clare game, I thought was maybe one of our best games this year. That was when we were hitting our stride down the stretch. That was a standout win. We played well against them.”

The Bucks are graduating eight senors.

“We’ll be young next year,” Goodenow said. “We’ll have two or three seniors. Trenton Holmes was only a sophomore. We’ll probably have at least a couple of  sophomores up. We’ll have our work cut out for us. We feel comfortable with the guys coming back.”