Pine River falls in girls districts

BEAL CITY — Pine River’s hopes of a district title were crushed Wednesday (Feb. 26) in a 45-40 loss to host Beal City in Class C girls basketball district action.

Kassy Nelson led Pine River with 13 points and Julie Justin added 11.

Pine River’s season ends at 15-4. Beal City, 13-7, advanced to Friday’s title game against Beaverton and lost 53-49.

Addie Schumacher sparked Beal City with 20 points and 15 rebounds. while Melanie Schafer added 14 points.

“Addie Schumacher stepped up big time,” said Beal City coach Chad Fletcher. “Melanie Schafer was 4-of-6 from the free-throw line in the second half and sealed the game.”

The Bucks fired out to a 9-0 lead before the Aggies could get things going. Nelson scored nine points in the first quarter but then was shut down in the second period by Beal City. The Bucks led 14-10 after the first quarter.

The Aggies grabbed their first lead late in the second quarter, 21-20, on Schumacher’s putback. The Bucks started applying full-court pressure and scored six quick points to regain the lead. Justin had six points in the second quarter to help the Bucks maintain a 26-23 lead.

Pine River was whistled for eight fouls compared to two for Beal City in the first half. It was 12-4 in fouls after three quarters and 23-10 for the game. The Bucks were 2-of-7 from the line and Beal City was 8-of-17.

“Whatever they did, we never got in a one-and-one,” said Ruppert. “It was definitely not the way we needed it called. I thought the refs were very unprofessional.  Some of the things they said to my girls, I didn’t appreciate.”

Schumacher scored five points early in the third for a 28-26 Aggie lead. The Bucks were forced to shoot outside and couldn’t hit. Schafer hit two straight to give Beal City a 35-30 lead at 3:10. Nelson hit a 3-pointer late in the quarter for her first points since the first quarter to tie the game at 35-all going into fourth.

The game remained tight during the fourth with the Aggies up 41-40 with less than a minute remaining. Nelson tried a triple that was short. Schafer hit two free throws at 0:41 for a 43-40 lead. She hit another one with 17 seconds to play for a four-point lead and the Bucks ran out of time.

“We had open shot after open shot but the refs definitely didn’t help,” Ruppert said.

“We were hoping for a better outcome but I was happy with our effort,” said Bucks senior Michelle Kelsey. “They had a height advantage on us and definitely outrebounded us.”

Kelsey was among the top players for the Bucks this season. She acknowledged that not following up on the 9-0 lead was critical

“I think we kind of got comfortable and then went back and forth on them,” Kelsey said.  “I felt like the refs were not for us. I’m proud of the girls, how we played and the effort we had all season. I like how much I have improved and the effort I put forth.”