Pine River’s strong second half overtakes McBain 64-44
LEROY — The most intense boys basketball rivalry in the Highland Conference resumed Friday night with Pine River winning 64-44 over McBain.
The two teams, resuming their seasons after the holiday break, played before a full house at the Pine River gym.
They shared the Highland Conference title last season, but Pine River defeated McBain in the district finals.
Friday night, Skyler Nelson scored 18 points and had nine boards for the Bucks, while Brandon Hoaglund had 15 points and seven assists and Mitchell McDonald added 13 points, four rebounds and eight assists for the Bucks.
“We got beat by a better basketball team,” said McBain coach Bruce Koopman. “They executed better, flat out kicked our butts.”
Pine River led 28-26 at halftime, and gradually pulled away in the second half. McDonald and Lucas Harris had six points apiece in the third.
In the fourth, the Bucks were in command with Nelson hitting two triples and Hoaglund netting seven points.
The Ramblers, after hitting their shots and controlling the boards in the first half, were colder in the final two quarters.
“We kept telling the guys that you have to get that position, and when you get that position, you have to move back one more step and clear more space,” said Pine River coach Brian Goodenow. “They’re longer than us. If you stand there they can reach over us and jump over us. We know that. We’re undersized.”
McBain only hit six shots from the floor, compared to 14 for the Bucks.
The Bucks struggled in the first 1:30 of the game with three turnovers. Nelson and Hoaglund both netted triples to give the Bucks the edge and a 15-8 lead. McBain was dominating the offensive boards and hit four straight points to make it 15-12 going into the second quarter. Nelson scored early in the second for a 21-16 lead and hit a triple late in the quarter for a 26-22 advantage.
“I don’t know how many offensive rebounds they had,” Goodenow said. “But they were getting easy putbacks in the first half. That just kills you.”
Harris added five rebounds for the Bucks.
“At halftime, we talked about not getting beat down the floor,” Goodenow. “People don’t normally do that to us. But they were outhustling us in the first half.”
Tyler Sterk scored 11 points for the Ramblers and Grant Gugle, who played as a sophomore at Pine River, had eight points for McBain.
“Give them credit, their guards did a great job,” Koopman said. “They shot the ball well, they crushed us on the boards. They flat out beat us.”
Pine River is 2-0 in the league and 4-0 overall. McBain is 0-2 and 1-4.
“We had three guys in double figures. Our key to success is having multiple guys in double figures,” Goodenow said. “Brandon (Hoaglund) always draws the toughest defensive assignments and still contributes so much on offense. I don’t how he keeps finding the energy. His quickness catches people off guard.”
The next game for the Bucks is home Thursday against Marion. A Monday game with Brethren was snowed out and will be rescheduled later.