Pine River places four girls on all-conference team

LEROY —  Four Pine River girls basketball players received all-league honors this season from the Highland Conference.

Junior Kassy Nelson, senior Mitchell Kelsey and freshman Julie Justin were on the first team while senior Paige Esiline was on the honorable mention list.

Nelson led the team in two categories with 15.6 points and 6.9 rebounds a game. She also had 3.2 steals per game.

“Kassy did a nice job for us all year,” said Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert.

Kelsey had 11.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game and a team high 3.7 steals per outing.

“Kelsey got up and down the floor well for us,” Ruppert said. “She played nice defense.”

Justin had 7.2 points, 3.3 assists and 2.9 steals per game.

“Julie kept getting better and better,” Ruppert said.

Esiline had 3.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.

The Bucks’ season ended in the Class C district semifinals.

“I was real happy. When you only have one returner (Nelson), you don’t know how it’s going to go,” Ruppert said. “I thought the girls started to believe they were a good team. We went to scoring in the 30s at the beginning of the year to scoring 50s and 60s consistently later in the year. I was happy the way they progressed.

“Defensively they were solid all year. They worked hard all year to get to where they ended up.”

Esiline, Erin Koetje, Kelsey and Jenna Peterson are the seniors that graduated.

Justin, Nelson and Cheyanna Rizor are among the returning starters.

“Chey was a starter before she got hurt,” Ruppert said. “I thought the girls did a nice job. We didn’t lose another game until districts when Chey went out. I was happy with that. She’ll be back. We have a good nucleus.”

Rizor missed the last six games.

Pine River tied with Beal City for second place in the league. McBain finished first.