Pine River girls too much for Evart

EVART — Kierra Justin scored 13 points and Anselma Barnett added 12 as Pine River defeated Evart 65-28 Friday night in girls basketball action.

Logan Powell added 10 points for the Bucks (9-1, 5-1) who are in second place in the Highland Conference following four straight wins.

The game was close early, with Evart (2-8, 1-5) hitting 3-point shots and preventing second-chance opportunities on defense. 

“I thought our first quarter was overall our best quarter of the year,” Evart head coach Paul Higgins said. “We executed offensively and defensively. We made a few shots and we created a few turnovers. 

“Overall the kids played hard but we have to do a better job.”

Pine River would take a 13-10 lead into the second quarter, where it was all Bucks. 

The Bucks outscored the Wildcats 17-3 in the second, capitalizing on Evart turnovers and scoring second- and third-chance points to take a 30-13 lead into halftime.

The second half was more of the same, with Kierra Justin, Powell and company crashing the boards for Pine River, and getting second and third-chance opportunities to score after missing the initial basket. 

“We forced them into making bad shots, but we let them get the rebounds for second chances,” Higgins said. “They get the ball back because we don’t have five players doing their job rebounding.”

Pine River guard Julie Justin suffered an apparent ankle injury in the second quarter and didn’t play in the second half. Sophomore Logan Powell stepped up and kept the offense on track.

“When Julie got hurt, she (Logan) had to run the floor,” Pine River head coach Shawn Ruppert said. “I thought she did a good job. She was the smallest girl on the court, but she was in the paint getting a lot of rebounds for us.”

The Bucks led 52-23 after three quarters, and outscored the Wildcats 13-5 in the fourth quarter to win by 37.

Macey Wallace led Evart with six points and Brooke Belleville added five points. While the end result wasn’t the desired outcome, the Wildcats had some positive moments that they hope to build on going forward.

“Our conference is tough” Higgins said. “It’s tough. These kids need to get better on the fly. Hopefully Monday we can build on our great first quarter and improve on the little things we need to get better at.”

Pine River hosted Brethren and Evart entertained Baldwin on Monday.