Bucks cruise past Wildcats to improve to 12-2 in Highland play

LEROY — Pine River opened a busy slate of games the next several days with a 62-22 victory over Evart in Highland Conference girls basketball action Tuesday. Kassy Nelson scored 16 points and Julie Justin added 14 for the Bucks who also have home games tonight against Manton and Friday against Beal City to end the regular season. Next Monday, Pine River plays at Farwell against the Eagles in a Class C district first-round game. “Hopefully we get healthy,” said Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert. “We’re getting thin on the bench. “ “We’re playing our hardest and trying to win all our games,” Justin said, “and play good defense. I think we’re getting there. We can do better. Our defense lacked a little bit (Tuesday). We didn’t rebound too good (Tuesday).” Mara VanOrder led the Wildcats in scoring with eight points. Nelson had 12 points, including two 3-pointers in the first quarter while Justin added six points to key a 25-5 Bucks lead going into the second. VanOrder had three field goals in the second for the Wildcats. But the Bucks continued to soar with Justin scoring four more points in the second to key a 37-14 halftime advantage. Leading by 23 at halftime, the Bucks opened the third quarter with a 10-0 run. Erin Koetje had six points in the third for the Bucks who led 55-18 after the quarter. “I thought we came out well in the first and third quarters,” Ruppert said. “I wasn’t too happy with the second quarter. But it’s hard (for players) to keep it going.” The Bucks played in throwback uniforms. Evart was without starting junior Kristin Kullman, who is nursing a sore knee. Nelson had six rebounds, six assists and four steals for the Bucks. Kelsey had six assists and four steals. “I thought Erin Koetje had one of her better games,” Ruppert said. “She was aggressive.” Koetje had all 11 of her points in the first three quarters. Pine River improves to 12-2 in the league and 13-3 overall. Evart, 0-13 in the league and 0-19 overall, play at home against McBain Friday night. PINE RIVER 62, EVART 22 EV 05 09 04 04 — 22 PR 25 12 18 11 — 62 EVART (0-19, 0-13 Highland) Tina LaFournier 2 0-0 4, Courtney Lang 1 0-0 2, Tabitha Turley 0 1-2 1, Sabrina McKay 0 1-2 1, Mara VanOrder 4 0-0 8, Natalie Belleville 2 1-4 5, Grace Hamilton 0 0-0 0, Allyssa Witbeck 0 1-2 0, Brooke Belleville 0 0-1 0. Totals 9 4-11 22 PINE RIVER (13-3, 12-2 Highland) Julie Justin 5 4-5 14, Kassy Nelson 5(2) 0-0 16, Paige Esiline 0 3-5 3, Erin Koetje 4 3-4 11, Michelle Kelsey 3 0-0 6, Kierra Justin 4 0-0 8, Morgan Sumpter 1 0-1 2, Jenna Peterson 1 0-0 2. Totals 23(2) 10-15 62