Pine River junior playing key role for Bucks basketball team

LEROY — Pine River is off to a 3-0 start in boys basketball and Hunter Esiline is playing no small role in that success.

In their most recent game, Dec. 14, the Bucks won 41-38 over Manistee to stay undefeated going into the winter break.

"Rebounding, we have to have, even though we didn't do it that well," Esiline said. "We have to have that."

The Bucks had a stellar defensive performance against Manistee.

"We gave them too many second chances," Esiline said. "We limited the shots they made."

As the Bucks get ready for the January portion of the schedule, Esiline realizes there's plenty of room for improvement, including scoring.

"We have to run through our offense better," he said.

Esiline, a junior, was moved up to the varsity last year toward the end of the season.

"It's a little different, but I'm mostly playing with the same kids," he said. "They pick me up and help me work harder. Last year I was more of a guard. This year, I'm more of a big man down low. For a big guy, I'm pretty quick and I can drive to the hole. Definitely my rebounding, that's where I help my team out the most."

Esiline said he's working to help his team with post moves down low.

"I've got a lot of work to do down there, especially on layups," he said. "We're not last year's team and not a big scoring team. We definitely need to put in some defensive work."

The Highland Conference season starts Jan. 5 at Beal City.

"We're expecting to be close to the top of the Highland like we always are," he said. "It's always good competition on the Highland. There's no bad team this year."