Powell set for huge contributions with Pine River basketball

LEROY — Mason Powell is in his junior season with the Pine River boys basketball team and is expected to be among the key players for the Bucks.

After a 3-0 start, that’s turned out to be the case.

“It’s going good,” Powell said during a winter break practice. “We’re improving every game. We still have our ups and downs. We turn the ball over a little too much. But we’re getting better.”

The positives, Powell said, include how the Bucks have been running and pushing the ball.

“Our bench is giving us good minutes,” he said. “It’s changed up. We don’t have a set sixth guy. It’s nice when the guys come off and give us a break and give us some energy. Our team chemistry has been good. We’re playing together and getting some assists. Our assist to turnover ratio is good.”

But the Bucks are looking to cut down the turnovers.

“It’s a matter of controlling the ball a little more,” Powell said. “We get excited when we start pushing it and make a pass that we probably shouldn’t make or we’re not strong enough with the ball and not watching where we’re dribbling and not communicating with our teammates. But that’s all stuff that will come.”

Powell played on the varsity as a sophomore last season with a team that was 17-4 but graduated standouts like ,Lucas Harris, Mitchell McDonald and Greg Park.

“With all our seniors leaving from last year and our major scorers are gone, I look to put a couple more points on the board, but also turn to the point guard Mitchell McDonald was and give other teammates good looks to the basket,” Powell said. “My inside jump shot is pretty good and I’m a good defender. I can lock down on a kid that’s pretty good. If that’s what coach wants me to do, I’ll focus more on that.”

The Bucks have not played since Dec. 14. The Highland Conference season started Tuesday at Beal City for a 22-day gap.

“We’re doing a lot of conditioning and a lot of up-and-down the floor and working on our tempo, working on new plays and traps and the stuff we need to work on, plus the fundamentals so we don’t get sloppy,” Powell said.

Against tough conference teams like McBain, the key will be “taking good shots and rebounding the ball,” Powell said. “Our height is taller than the last couple of years at Pine River, but we’re still small when it comes to conference play. We need to box out, hit the boards and keep our turnovers low.”

But Powell likes the Bucks’ chances for winning a lot of games again.

“I feel we’ll win our fair share of games,” he said, “and maybe sneak up on someone during districts.”

The Bucks are home Friday night against Manton.