Season ends for Bucks

LEROY — Skyler Nelson and his Pine River teammates can hardly wait for the 2012-13 season to begin.

But the recently-completed season still provided plenty of memories.

Pine River tried to pull off the upset but fell short in losing to McBain in Wednesday’s Class C district semifinal game at Clare 50-45.

McBain, the defending Class C state runners-up, had beaten the Bucks twice during the regular season and Pine River was hoping the third time would be the charm. But McBain hit the key shots in the fourth quarter to pull out the win.

“I felt we came out with a lot of fire,” said Nelson. “We started out doing well. The second quarter hurt us. We didn’t really score that much. Overall, I think we played a pretty good game. We had a good week of practice so I knew we’d be ready.”

A poor second quarter, in which they were outscored 13-2, put the Bucks behind 27-17 at halftime. But in the third, the Bucks made their move. Lincoln Erickson scored inside at 2:10 to cut the Rambler lead to 32-31. Mitch McDonald had a layup at the buzzer but missed it and McBain stayed ahead 34-32.

“It just boiled down to a few key turnovers,” Pine River coach Scott Benson said. “Mitch missed that little layup. We had three or four steals we didn’t capitalize on. Mitch goes 150 percent. He plays so hard. He has to learn sometime how to turn that thermostat down.”

Hunter Powell scored inside at 7:35 to tie the game 34-34. Nathan Smith scored at the other end to put the Ramblers back in the lead. Smith scored as Powell drew his fourth foul at 6:14. He hit the free throw for a 39-34 lead.

Jared Larr scored on a drive at 3:29 as the Ramblers took control with a 43-37 lead. Powell fouled out with 3:23 to play. Erickson scored at 2:14 to cut the lead to 44-39 and Skyler Nelson followed with a bucket moments later to make it 44-41. Nelson’s two free throws at 1:20 made it 44-43 and Erickson rebounded at the other end with a minute to play.

But Larr intercepted a pass and was fouled by Nelson as he broke to the basket. He hit both free throws for a 46-43 lead. Pine River missed a shot at the other end and Nemeth was fouled with 14 seconds to play. He hit both shots for a 48-43 lead and time ran out on the Bucks.

“Pine River deserved to win this ballgame,” said McBain coach Bruce Koopman. “We got some key free throws and a couple of stops. That was the key. They could have easily gone the other way.”

Pine River had a strong first quarter with Nelson sinking a triple and Erickson, Powell and McDonald netting two field goals apiece. McBain led 14-13 but expanded that in the second with tough defense, holding the Bucks to only one field goal, Pine River also was 0-of-4 in free throws in the second quarter.

“We told the kids that great teams are going to make runs on you,” Benson said. “We needed to do a better of job of pressuring the ball.”

Erickson scored 14 points for the Bucks, followed by Powell with 13. Also for Pine River, McDonald added nine points and Nelson had seven.

“(Pine River) played with a lot of energy,” Koopman said. “They rebounded well.”

“Hunter, Devon (Ruppert) and Lincoln did a great job,” Benson said of his team’s work on the boards. “We did what we needed to do.”

Smith led McBain with 14 points while Larr added 13 for the Ramblers.

Pine River’s season ends at 13-8.

“I don’t think we played as well as we could,” Nelson said, evaluating the entire season.

“Next year, we’re going to work hard and we’ll do well.”

The Bucks return their top seven players next year.

“We could be pretty good next year,” Benson smiled.

McBain lost to Clare in the title game on Friday 70-47.