Pine River girls rally over Reed City

LEROY— Reed City’s girls basketball team went 0-2 last week to open the season in non-league games.

Friday night, the Coyotes lost 45-32 to Cadillac. Natalie Westhoff netted eight points, seven rebounds and four steals while Jacolyn Mullins had eight points and five steals and Karah Hensel added 10 points and five steals.

The Coyotes had 18 steals as a team.

Meanwhile, it was the season opener and it went down to the wire between non-league neighboring rivals Pine River and Reed City Tuesday night Dec. 3.

Cheyanna Rizor scored 10 points, all in the second half while Michelle Kelsey and Kassy Nelson added eight apiece to lead the Bucks to a 38-36 victory over the Coyotes in a battle that turned into a defensive struggle

“It’s a typical first game of the year,” said Reed City coach Brian Koopman. “Both teams lost players from last year and we’re still trying to find our identity. In the second half, they came out with more intensity and we didn’t.”

“It wasn’t our best game, but last year, we didn’t play well our first game either,” said Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert. “It was nice to get a win. We’re so young. Just winning this game was important.”

Trailing at halftime, Pine River’s Paige Esiline drove for a basket to cut Reed City’s lead to 26-23 with 5:20 left in the third.

Rizor’s layup a minute later made it a one-point game. Michelle Kelsey scored off a Pine River steal at 1:01 and it was 31-30 with the Bucks leading for the first time. Lauren Voelker hit a basket on the other side to put the Coyotes back in front, 32-31 to enter the third quarter. Rizor scored eight points in the quarter for the Bucks.

The game stayed tight throughout the fourth quarter. Rizor’s layup gave the Bucks a 37-36 lead at 4:40 while the PR defense continued to stymie Reed City. Neither team could connect offensively to take control of the game and both sides committed key turnovers in the late going. Hensel almost had a key steal but was called for a non-shooting foul with 39.1 seconds to play. The Coyotes were forced to commit two more non-shooting fouls to get Pine River to the line.

Nelson went to the line with 28.6 seconds left and made one of two for a 38-36 Bucks lead. The Coyotes missed at the other end and Julie Justin was fouled. She missed the free throw and Reed City got another chance with 16 seconds to play. Switzer’s jumper went off the backboard and was rebounded by the Bucks to secure the Pine River win.

The Coyotes were up 24-17 at halftime. They grabbed a 13-6 first-quarter lead, limiting the Bucks to a 3-point shot by Nelson and a 3-point play by  Justin. Alaina Woodard netted a 3-pointer in the quarter for the Coyotes while Hensel had four points as the Reed City fast-break was resulting in key offensive opportunities.

Mullins hit four points in the second to keep the Coyotes ahead but the Bucks started finding their shot. Kelsey hit two baskets to cut the Reed City lead to seven at the intermission.

Lauren Voelker scored eight points from off the bench to lead the Coyotes who also netted seven points from Hensel.

The Bucks had 19 rebounds, led by Kelsey with 8. Julie Justin dished out three assists. The Bucks had 12 steals as a team as the Coyotes committed 26 turnovers. Westhoff had seven boards and Voelker six for the Coyotes who had 29 as a team.

“It’s the first game of the year and we have a long way to go,” said Koopman. “In the first half, we came out and played with great intensity. It was one of those games I didn’t want to see halftime come. We have to work on being more aggressive with the ball. We have to make smarter decisions.”

“Our rebounding the first half was horrendous,” said Ruppert. “In the third quarter, our defense and rebounding got us back in the game.”