Pine River places four players on all-Highland girls team

LEROY — Pine River’s girls basketball team brought home the Highland Conference championship this season and among the reasons for the success were five players who recently received all-league honors.

The Bucks entered the season without key players including all-stater Kassy Nelson, now at Saginaw Valley State University. The season started out slow.

“We went from a 2-3 team to a 16-3 team for the regular season,” Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert said. “It was a team that no one expected to compete for championships, to a conference champion with only one loss and to a team that almost won a district championship.”

First team all-league players for the Bucks include juniors Julie and Kierra Justin, who are cousins; sophomore Kaylee Goodman and freshman Logan Powell. Anna Lindquist was on the honorable mention list.

Julie Justin averaged 15.3 points, 3.7 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game. She’s a three-year starter.

“She was one of our captains and our leader on the floor,” Ruppert said. “She was very consistent all year. She works extremely hard on all aspects of her game.”

Kierra averaged 11.2 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks a game.

“She had great improvement over last year,” Ruppert said. “She was dominant under the basket in many games. She’s also a very good passer for a post player.”

Kaylee Goodman averaged 7.7 points, 1.9 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game.

“She continued to improve all season as she learned how to play with an injury from last spring,” Ruppert said. “She’s a great athlete who made great strides throughout the season.”

 Powell averaged 7.2 points, 1.6 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game.

“She started as a freshman from game one and came so far in one season of varsity basketball,” Ruppert said. “She’s a good shooter, who will develop into a very good point guard as her experience increases and ball handling improves.”