Pine River girls sail past Marion

LEROY — Pine River’s girls basketball team spent Thursday night getting ready for a big showdown this week at Lake City.

The Bucks (14-3, 11-1) rolled past Marion (1-16, 0-12) in Highland Conference girls basketball action 63-16.

Pine River beat Lake City 41-27 earlier in the season. Both teams only have a loss with two league games remaining.

“You’re guaranteed at least a tie,” Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert said of the reward for Tuesday’s winner. “I like the way we’re playing. The way we started (the season) with those (two losses) to Morley (Stanwood) and Reed City and where we’re at now, I knew we’d see a lot of improvement because we were so young.”

The key to getting a win on Tuesday will be “defense, staying in front of them, rebounding the ball and running the floor,” Ruppert said. “We have to do those things.”

The Bucks fired out to early leads against the Eagles. Julie Justin hit a 3-pointer late in the first quarter, which ended in a a 20-4 Pine River lead.

Logan Powell hit a 3-pointer early in the second quarter for a 25-4 lead. Kierra Justin had two straight putbacks to ignite the Bucks to a 31-5 lead late in the quarter. It was 33-8 at halftime. Kierra Justin had 10 points, Julie Justin nine and Powell eight at halftime.

The Bucks opened the third quarter with a 7-0 run. Julie Justin passed to KayLee Goodman for a 47-10 lead with 2:18 left in the quarter. It was 50-12 going into the fourth. Kierra Justin’s layup made it 54-14 with five minutes left and the running clock took effect.

“I thought everyone that got into the game played well,” Ruppert said. “I like where we’re at right now. I like the way we got back on defense. We didn’t give up easy layups. I like the way we rebounded. We shot the ball pretty well tonight.”

Kierra Justin had 16 points while Julie Justin and Powell added 15 apiece.

“Just hustling down the floor, getting back and rebounding was our main goal,” Kierra Justin said. “We’re playing better than we have been playing.”

“I like the way Logan is performing with confidence,” Ruppert said. “Julie is playing a lot better. We’re playing well.”

Pine River is home Friday with Evart to end the regular season. The Bucks play in the Class C districts next week at McBain.