LEROY — Pine River’s boys basketball team entered the holiday break with just two games under their belt, but is practicing this week to get ready for a heavy dose of 18 regular season games from Jan. 3 to early March.

They’ll be relying on the talents of several returning players including senior Mason Powell.

The Bucks are 0-2 with losses to Morley Stanwood and Manton. Another scheduled game for December against Beal City was postponed because of snow and rescheduled for Jan. 9. One of the challenges the Bucks had in December was having a football team that played in the state semifinals on Nov. 19.

Since many of the football players also are on the basketball team, hoops coach Brian Goodenow gave his squad a week off and practices started just eight days before the first regular-season game against Morley Stanwood. 

Powell scored 22 points for the Bucks in the setback.

“I didn’t know I did that well and shot the ball quite that well,” Powell said after the game. “We have a lot of things to work on. The first step in fixing the problem is knowing you have one. So now we can work on fixing it.”

As the month progressed, Powell said it was a matter of the players going back to the basics.

It’s Powell’s third season on the varsity.

“I’ll focus on defense, be able to lock down the other team’s best player, get rebounds, make the team better and score when I need to, rebound when I need to and assist the ball when I need to,” he said.

By January, Powell is hoping his team will be clicking on all cylinders.

“Hopefully the joys of a long football season carries into the joys of a long basketball season,” he said. “I think we can do a lot.”

The Bucks will be busy in early January. They are at Harrison Jan. 3, at McBain on Jan. 5, home with Beal City on Jan 9, at Marion on Jan. 11 and at home with McBain Northern Michigan Christian on Jan. 13. That’s five games in a 10-day span, weather permitting.