Pine River girls ready for upcoming hoops action

LEROY — Action for Pine River’s girls basketball team resumes Thursday in a home game against McBain Northern Michigan Christian.

Pine River entered the holiday break on Dec. 20 with a road win at Scottville over Mason County Central 68-43.

Jamie Justin scored 15 points and had eight rebounds for the Bucks while Cayman Gatt added 11 points and Devyn Powell had 10.

Pine River had a62-13 victory over Marion on the road in Highland Conference action on Dec. 16.

The win broke a three-game losing streak for the Bucks.

Justin led Pine River with 13 points and four assists, followed by Gatt with nine points and five steals. Michelle Kelsey and Powell both added eight points.

On Dec. 13, the Bucks had lost to McBain in another Highland Conference game.

“We didn’t play well,” said Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert. “I didn’t feel we played with a lot of heart in that game. Friday, we came out more aggressive and defensively picked up a lot. That’s why we focused on Wednesday and Thursday (in practice). We’re young.”

The Bucks are 3-3.

Other than the McBain game, Ruppert said he has been generally pleased with his team’s success.

“The young girls have stepped up. I knew the beginning of our schedule was tough,” he said. “I’m happy with where we’re at. We can definitely get better. We have to learn to play together.”

His players, including Chelsea Nelson, agree.

“We’re still in the learning process,” Nelson said. “But we’re getting there. When we played Morley Stanwood (in a close loss), that’s how we want to play all the time. We have to play a a family and not as individuals. If you have the team behind you, you eventually get the confidence.

“Our defense has picked up lately. Now we’re waiting on the offense. We want to show McBain we’re better than what showed them earlier this year.”

Jandney Mattson has been among the new players on the team.

“It was a big transition,” she said. “The pace is a lot faster than JV. I’m pretty much used to it now.”

Mattson said her role has been defensive oriented and to do some occasional scoring.

“I think we’re playing pretty good,” she said. “For our big game against Morley Stanwood, we played very good. Now it’s farther in the season and we’re getting into the flow of things better We know how to play together a lot better.

‘We work on very game with our transition and our fast breaks. Against Marion, we did well on the transition in that game. We want to keep improving in that.”