Pine River boys will rely on speed this season

LEROY — Plenty of talent graduated from last season’s 20-3 Highland Conference co-championship boys basketball Pine River team that was also Class C district winners.

But in his second season, coach Brian Goodenow also has some returning talent that could help the Bucks have another successful season.

The season will start Tuesday at home against Harrison and continues on the road with Traverse City Christian Dec. 12. The league season opens at home Dec. 17 with Manton.

Joe Bowman, Lincoln Erickson, Tyler Lewis and Devin Ruppert graduated from last season’s team. Key players returning include Lucas Harris, Brandon Hoaglund, Skyler Nelson and Mitchell McDonald.

A primary post player for the Bucks will be Dylan Seiting, who is a senior at 6-3 and “is a real lanky kid and a good shot blocker,” according to Goodenow. Schroeder Vanderhoof is also a returning senior will also be at the post.

The Bucks won’t have the height this season but will enjoy some quickness.

“I think we’ll contend for the conference again this year,” Goodenow said. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t. We have some excellent scorers. We just won’t be so deep. Last year, if a key player was out, it didn’t matter because we had someone else who could step up. At least early on this year, until the incoming guys can get up to speed and adjust to the speed of the game, we won’t have the depth.”

Pine River plays in a tough Class C seven-team district at Beaverton, which will include the host school, plus Beal City, Coleman, Farwell, Evart and Sanford Meridian,

“Our goal is to hopefully win another district title this year,” Goodenow said. “Our two biggest strengths will be our speed and perimeter scoring ability. Tempo is what we’re stressing in practice right now. We played an uptempo last year but nothing close to what we hope to run this year. Our guys are really working on their conditioning to maintain the tempo we want to run on offense and defense.”

Goodenow expects Beal City, Lake City and McBain to be tough in the conference.

“There’s a lot of balance in our conference,” he said. “Evart has some good young talent coming in. It’s wide open I think. Three or four teams can contend.”

Pine River scrimmaged  at Cadillac last Friday against the home school and Boyne City.

“We liked what we saw,” Goodenow said. “Those are good programs and solid teams. We were competitive and won more than we lost.”