Pine River junior ready to bid for more boys basketball titles

LEROY — Pine River lost plenty of talent from its Highland Conference championship and Class C district championship season a year ago.

But the Bucks have some good talent returning including junior Mitchell McDonald in his third varsity season.

“We’ve made a lot of progress,” McDonald said during the three-week practice preseason.  “We have six returners. We have a lot of speed this year. We should be able to get up and down the court really fast.”

McDonald and his teammates enjoyed a memorable 2012-13 season. “It was a really, really fun season, very successful in my eyes,” he said. “I try to adapt my game to the players around me. If I have to be fast then we’re going to be fast. If I have to slow it down and run offenses for our shooters, that’s what we’re going to do.”

Among the graduates for the Bucks were taller players like Lincoln Erickson and Devin Ruppert.

“Our tallest player is 6-3 but he had a 6-10 wing span,” McDonald said, referring to Dylan Seiting.

With that in mind, McDonald expects more of a run-and-gun attack, which he doesn’t really mind.

“I love that kind of stuff,” McDonald said “I love pushing the ball. I love tiring teams out.”

Pine River opened Tuesday against Harrison at home and play at Traverse City Christian on Thursday. The Bucks are home next Tuesday night against Manton before going on holiday break.

McDonald expects to emerge as a better player this season.

“I’ve been working on my left-hand and starting to trust my left hand a little more and taking it to the hole,” he said.

McDonald is also confident this team can have some title success again this winter.

“We’re hoping to make it to regionals and anything can happen from there,” he said. “Run-and-gun and be smart with the basketball if we put the ball up and aren’t forcing shots and looking for the other guys, we’re going to win games.”