Pine River girls 2-0 in districts to claim tournament title

LEROY — As they reflected on their 2012-13 season, Pine River wil relish a 3-0 record over McBain, which included a 54-32 win over McBain on Friday, March 1.

After the Bucks (20-1) dropped their opener on the road to Reed City in a tough 60-42 loss, Pine River knew it had to rethink how it was going to approach its season as a team if it was going to accomplish its goals.

“It was kind of a wake-up call for us,” sophomore guard Kassy Nelson said. “When we played Reed City, I don’t really know what was going on — it felt like we were overly-confident coming in. That loss brought us down a few notches and taught us that we had to work for what we wanted.”

Haley Raymond remembers the loss served as motivation for the rest of the season that has now included a conference and district title in her senior season.

“I think that loss showed us how we didn’t want to feel the rest of the season,” she said. “We knew we had to pick it up from there. We knew we weren’t working together as a team, and that’s what we do well, so that taught us we had to pull it together right then and there.”

That attitude was on display against the Ramblers , as Pine River fired out to a 21-1 lead to start the game behind suffocating defense and lights-out shooting in the first quarter.

It started from behind the arc, with Nelson and Raymond hitting triples to make it 10-1. Jamie Justin then finished strong at the basket before Raymond hit a jumper with 12 seconds left in the quarter and it was quickly 16-1.

Hot starts have become a staple of this year’s team, coach Shawn Ruppert said.

“We’ve been that way for a while,” he said. “I thought we started off really well defensively and we got good shots in transition. Haley Raymond shot really well for us,”

Raymond, who scored nine of her 11 points in the first half, knew getting off to a good start in front of the home crowd was going to be critical in taking McBain out of its comfort zone. Nelson led the Bucks with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Justin ran the show, scoring 14 points, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out four assists.