Pine River girls defeat Evart

LEROY — Kassy Nelson isn’t wasting any time going for another 1,000 points.

Pine River was lifted by a 20-point performance from Nelson as the Bucks improved to 9-2 with a 58-28 win on the road Friday at Manton.

Julie Justin also contributed 17 points.

Nelson, who passed the 1,000-mark in late January against Beal City, scored 27 in a 68-23 victory over Evart on Jan. 28.

Pine River outscored Evart 31-2 in the second half.

“I thought our defense was terrible in the first half and I thought our rebounding was terrible in the first half,” Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert said. “It was better in the second half.”

Nelson scored 15 of her team’s first 17 points for a 17-8 lead after the first quarter and had 22 of her squad’s first 24 points. Her teammates also got into the act in the second quarter. Justin had a 3-pointer and five points in the quarter. Kierra Justin had a layup to close the half with Pine River up 37-21.

After a slow start, the Wildcats offense got going, led by Tabby Turley who had eight points in the second quarter. She scored midway in the quarter to cut the Pine River lead to 21-16.

The Justin combination of Julie and Kierra combined for nine points to make it 46-21 to open the second half. Nelson followed with a triple. Brooke Belleville broke Evart’s third-quarter scoreless streak with a basket at 2:56, making it 51-23. Pine River had a 17-2 scoring advantage in the third. It was 54-23 going into the fourth.

Kierra Justin hit two baskets to open the fourth for a 58-23 Bucks lead.

“It was effort,” Ruppert said of his team’s second-half effort. “We know how to play defense. We just weren’t doing it (in the first half). We made a couple of adjustments but nothing renown. We just did a better job of what we know how to do.”

Kierra Justin wound up with 16 points while Julie Justin had 11. Nelson also had 12 rebounds, five assists and seven steals while Rizor had seven rebounds and Julie Justin five assists.

“I was not happy at halftime,”  Ruppert said. “You’re not going to beat good teams giving up that many points in a half. Evart has improved a lot. But we still know that if we play that type of defense, they’re not going to score than many points in the first half, at least they shouldn’t if we do our job.”

“We played a lot better defense and we ran the floor,”Julie Justin said. “We didn’t let them get to the lane and get offensive rebounds.”

Turley scored eight points to lead Evart

“It was just execution, a lack of execution,” Evart coach Paul Higgins said.

Pine River is 9-2 overall and plays at McBain Thursday.

Evart is 3-8 overall.