By Matt Wenzel

Pioneer News Network

MANISTEE — Pine River brought a perfect record to Manistee on Monday and left with it intact.

But, it didn’t come easily.

Manistee gave Pine River nearly everything it could handle before the Bucks held on for a 57-53 win on Monday night.

Pine River didn’t hit a field goal the final 5 1/2 minutes of the game, but went 7-for-14 from the free throw line to pull out the win while Manistee went 4:11 without a point.

“We have to get a lot better than that if we want to stay competitive with the teams we have coming up — not to take anything away from Manistee because they played very well,” said Pine River coach Brian Goodenow.

“I was really impressed with the way they played.”

Matt Simmons hit a step-back triple with 16 seconds left to pull Manistee within three points, but coming out of a timeout the Chippewas couldn’t get a foul whistled until 2.9 seconds left and Pine River’s Tyler Lewis split a pair to put the game out of reach.

Lewis hit six 3-pointers en route to a game-high 22 points to lead the Bucks (6-0).

“He’s been playing well all year in that scoring role,” Goodenow said. “He played good defense (Monday) too and that’s the thing we harp on him the most to keep working on.”

Devin Ruppert scored 10 to go with six rebounds for Pine River while Mitchell McDonald had eight points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals.

“We missed a lot of easy shots,” Goodenow said. “It was one of those nights they just wouldn’t go in.”

Andrew Solberg scored 15 to go with six rebounds, three assists and three steals, Simmons had 15 points and Jordan MacArthur 10 to help Manistee (1-7) to a season-high point total.

Lewis hit a trio of triples in the first quarter to help push the Bucks to a 20-12 lead, but the Chippewas fought back in the second with points from six different players to pull within four at halftime at 29-25.

“We didn’t play good defense,” Lewis said. “We gave up the baseline too much. ... We started talking at the end of the third and started playing a little bit better.”

Pine River got a 3-point play from Skyler Nelson and a triple from Lewis to close the third on a 6-0 run in the last 21 seconds for a 46-41 lead,

“They played with more intensity than we did,” Goodenow said. “They were hitting some big 3s against us. They shot the ball better than we did.”

After a Matt Simmons basket pulled the Chippewas within a point at 50-49 with 5:22 left, Manistee didn’t score again until Dustin Simmons (eight rebounds, four assists) split a pair of free throws with 1:11 to play to trail 54-50.

The Bucks struggled from the line down the stretch, but it was enough to get out of the gym with a win.