Pine River girls pick up more victories

LEROY — Kassy Nelson had a team-high 17 points in Pine River’s  58-25 win on Thursday over Lake City in Highland Conference action.

Julie Justin added 14 points, and Kierra Justin scored 11 points.

Meanwhile, Pine River took a break from conference action to test Mason County Central in Tuesday non-league girls basketball play.

The visiting Spartans couldn’t cope with Pine River an all-state candidate Kassy Nelson and the Bucks’ defense in a 71-31 win for the hosts.

Nelson netted eight 3-pointers and totaled 30 points and five assists to lead Pine River ,while Julie Justin added 18 points and five assists

Pine River improved to 13-3.

The Bucks built a 38-20 halftime lead, led by Nelson’s 19 points, which included five 3-pointers.

“We didn’t play good defense in the first half,” Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert said. “We just were not strong with the ball. I thought the second half we came out and played a lot more of our style.”

Nelson hit three triples in the first quarter, while Justin added eight points for a 22-8 Bucks lead. Pine River had built a 22-6 advantage before the Spartans finally scored. Julie and Kierra Justin both picked up their third fouls in the second quarter and had to sit for several minutes.

Jenna Johnson got a key field goal from off the bench to help the Bucks stay in front. Nelson hit a shot from behind the half-court stripe at the buzzer.

Nelson netted a 3-pointer to open the third quarter. Cheyanna Rizor hit a drive for a 45-24 lead at 4:02. It was 51-28 going into the fourth and both Justins avoided their fourth foul.

“One reason (MCC) stuck around in the first half is Julie had to sit down a lot,” Ruppert said. “I probably pulled the press a little too early. It was only 20-8 when I pulled it.”

Nelson hit two 3-pointers early in the fourth for a 57-28 lead. Julie Justin followed with a field goal and two straight 3-point plays for a 65-28 cushion.

“They’re a physical team,” Ruppert said. “We let them do it to us in the first half.”

Makila Hodges led Mason County Central with nine points.

MCC fell to 4-13.

“I thought we did a good job on (Nelson),” Spartan coach Mike Weinert said. “But not when we left her (open). I thought we did a pretty good job overall.” Kierra Justin and Cheyanna Rizor had seven points apiece. Justin had nine boards and Rizor four.”

“This was a good opportunity to work on our defense,” Rizor said. “We’re hoping to get another chance to play McBain (in the postseason).”