Pine River ends league season with victory over Evart

EVART — County rivals Evart and Pine River put the wraps on their Highland Conference boys basketball season on Thursday night with Pine River taking a 74-56 victory.

Mason Powell scored 27 points, while Hunter Esiline added 16 points and Tristen Nelson put in 15.

Both will be at Pine River this week for the Class C district tournament.

Powell had a career high in points.

“I started hitting shots early and I knew I could attack the rim,” he said. “If people are there to collapse on me, I have to look to dish. But the shots were falling.”

Pine River (12-7, 8-6) built a 36-30 halftime lead over Evart (6-14, 3-11). Mason Powell scored 10 first-quarter points to lead Pine River (12-7, 8-6) to an 18-15 first-quarter edge despite seven points from Evart’s Danny Griffin.

Tristen Nelson and Powell both hit four free throws to spark the Pine River offense in the second quarter.

Hunter Esiline hit two straight early in the third quarter to give the Bucks a 42-32 lead.

Griffin, Andrew Bengry and Layne Nadig had one 3-pointer each to keep Evart in the game. Goodenow hit a turnaround for a 52-43 Bucks lead with 30 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Bucks continued to lead in the fourth and continued to control the boards. Powell drove for a layup and 61-51 lead with 3:20 to play Hoaglund scored off his own offensive rebound for a 65-53 lead with 2:15 to play. Robbie Tapling had a 3-pointer for Evart at 1:25 but the Bucks were up 67-56.

“It was a good team win,” Nelson said. “We let them shoot a lot of 3s and got into foul trouble. But we had a good team win and nailed our free throws at the end.

Griffin scored 18 points and Tapling added 14.

The rebounding  disadvantage “has been a key all year,” Evart coach Kris Morgan said. “We are at a height disadvantage against those teams. Unless we rebound and box out as a team, we have a hard time winning. That and I believe our defense was pretty porous down the stretch. They were hitting their shots but we were making it easy for them.”

Pine River beat Evart earlier this season 68-54. In the districts next Wednesday, Evart faces Manton in the first game at 6 p.m. and Pine River faces Lake City or McBain at 7:30 p.m.

“I told our boys we have a chance,” Morgan said. “The season’s not over. They’re definitely disappointed about Senior Night. We have to hit our shots and not turn the ball over.”

Pine River has a nonleague home game Saturday afternoon with Newaygo.