Pine River girls fall to McBain

LEROY — Meredith Hamlet scored 22 points and undefeated McBain held back Pine River 44-38 Friday night in Highland Conference girls basketball action.

The Ramblers, 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the Highland, fired out to an 11-0 lead and were up 22-10 after the first quarter. But Pine River fought back and it was only 26-17 for McBain at halftime and 35-33 after the third quarter. Kassy Nelson sank a baseliner with 2:10 to play to cut the McBain lead to 39-38. Asia LaGrow connected at the other end for the Ramblers, who were able to put the game away at the free-throw line.

Slow starts has been something the Bucks have had to deal with so far this season.

“Three of our first four games, we’ve done that,” said Pine River Coach Shawn Ruppert. “We have to get rid of that. Then you have to work so hard to get back, which we did.”

Ruppert indicated that when the Bucks did their rotations effectively, they were able to mount a rally.

“We know we can play with them.” Ruppert said. “We just have to get rid of the first quarter. You can’t do that. We’re inexperienced. We’re learning. Most of McBain’s starters are back from last year. I’ve got one.”

Pine River had a 31-30 rebounding advantage. Kassy Nelson scored 11 points and had six boards. Michelle Kelsey had nine points and six rebounds. Paige Esiline had eight points and nine boards.

“Kassy was sick. I’ll bet you she had a fever of 101,” Ruppert said. “She was not feeling well. That held her back a little bit.”

But Pine River couldn’t hit a key bucket in the final minutes of play.

“We had them, but it wasn’t going in,” Ruppert said. “The free throws really hurt us.”

“No. 1, we got out of here with a win,” said McBain coach Todd Hamlet. “No. 2, my young kids understand the execution part of the game.”

The Bucks, 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the Highland, were to play Monday at Boyne City. That game was canceled and rescheduled for Jan. 4. The next scheduled game for the Bucks is Thursday at Marion.