Ruppert up for key role

LEROY — Devin Ruppert likes how prospects are shaping up for his Pine River Bucks in the remaining weeks of the basketball season.

Ruppert, a junior, is in his second varsity season with the Bucks.

“I’m a lot better, my shots are a lot better and I can score a little bit more,” he said. “Last year, I was more of a guard. This year, I have to get in and rebound and do some of the dirty work.”

He’s been focusing on his shooting.

Ruppert “plays hard all the time,” Pine River coach Scott Benson said. “He finally got some points on the board (against Beal City).”

“We’re over .500 so that’s good,” Ruppert said. “We played well against Beal but we lost. Our last three or four games we probably played our best basketball we have all season.”

Defensive rebounding has been among Ruppert’s strengths. The Bucks are coming off a 62-55 loss to Beal City at home on Friday. The Aggies led 20-15 at the end of the first quarter and 29-28 at halftime. Beal City’s lead was 43-41 at the end of the third quarter and the Aggies had a 19-14 scoring advantage in the fourth.

Hunter Powell had 12 points and 14 rebounds for the Bucks while Ruppert added 11 points and Joey Bowman had nine points.

“We need to make shots. Our shot percentage hasn’t been great this year,” Ruppert said. “We’re expecting them to start falling.”

“We played a helluva game,” Benson said. “They shot 32 free throws and we had five, just one in the second half.”

All-state candidate Stone Beckwith scored 31 points for the Aggies.

“It thought we did a helluva job on him,” Nelson said. “Mitch McDonald got blocks, got steals, picked up charges and held him to eight points in the first half. He was at the line al night. Our kids followed the game plan. He had 31 of their 62 points. He’s good. I have a freshman that’s on him and is weighing 160 pounds and Stone is about 200. Our big guys did a great job, Hunter in particular. But they made adjustments.

“It was a one-point game pretty much the whole way. But just the free throws …”

Pine River played Mesick on Tuesday (Jan. 24) and is home with Evart Thursday.

“Evart will be good, we’ll have to play a good game to beat them,” Benson said.

Plenty of potential remains for the team, as far as Ruppert is concerned.

“I’d say we can get into the tournament and go pretty far,” he said. “We have to pull together and start making shots and play good defense.”