Pine River girls retain share of first place

LEROY — Pine River’s girls basketball team scored a pair of wins last week to keep a share of first place with Lake City in the Highland Conference.

The Bucks defeated McBain Northern Michigan Christian 59-54 on Friday. Pine River (12-3, 10-1) was led by Julie Justin with 27 points and Logan Powell with 15.

On Feb. 9, the Bucks gained revenge on an earlier season loss to McBain with a 45-40 win. Pine River trailed 26-20 at halftime. Kierra Justin had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Bucks, while Julie Justin added 13 points, five steals and four assists.

“We needed both of those wins,” Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert said. “I was happy with our effort Tuesday night against McBain. I thought we played hard.”

Against NMC three days later, “we might have had a little bit of a letdown from Tuesday after we beat McBain,” Ruppert said. “But NMC played well. I thought Julie and Logan stood up. We got into foul trouble. I knew last week would be a big week.”

The Bucks host Marion this Thursday and play at Lake City next Tuesday. The Bucks and Lake City are tied for first place in the Highland Conference. Pine River defeated the Trojans earlier in the season.