Pine River girls set to defend league title

LEROY — Pine River enters this season as the defending Highland Cofnerence girls basketball champions and the Bucks appear poised to make another run.

The season starts at Reed City on Nov. 29. The Bucks were scheduled to have two scrimmages this week.

Bucks’ coach Shawn Ruppert anticipates around 12 players on the varsity  and 10 on the JVs.

“We’re conditioning and getting there that way,” Ruppert said. “I feel that we have to work more on the transition game and getting back, and just being more aggressive. That will come.”

The Bucks only lost three regular season games including the first two to Reed City and Morley Stanwood. Pine River was 16-3 during the regular season and 17-4 overall.

Key returnees include cousins Julie and Kierra Justin, KayLee Goodman, Anna Lindquist, Logan Powell, Selma Barnett and Alexis Bennett.

Juile Justin “is our quarterback on the floor,” Ruppert said. “She really came on the end of last year. I’m hoping she picks up where she left off.”

Ruppert expects McBain, NMC and Manton to provide tough competition in the league. McBain edged Pine River in the district finals.