Strong start lifts Bucks over Coyotes

LEROY — Pine River appeared more than ready to tip off the season. But it took the Reed City Coyotes awhile to get going.

Pine River fired out to a 30-14 halftime lead and scored the first eight points of the third quarter on its way to a 55-42 girls basketball nonleague victory in the season opener for both teams Tuesday night.

Jamie Justin led the Bucks with 21 points while Kalee Hensel and Jordyn Mason had 13 points apiece for Reed City.

“We've done this the last few years, we always start out slow,” said Reed City coach Brian Koopman. “It's not just this game...don't ask me why. We've had some good scrimmages and we had a good summer.”

When Kassy Nelson netted one of her three triples of the night early in the third, the Bucks had a commanding 38-14 lead. But Justin picked up her fourth foul and had to sit on the bench. The Coyotes took advantage with Mason hitting three field goals and two free throws in the quarter to cut the Bucks lead to 40-30 going into the fourth.

“When you get up like we did and let them get back, that's not acceptable,” said Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert. “I have a lot of young girls.”

Justin returned to the game in the fourth and netted a triple to make it 46-30. She hit two free throws in the waning moments of the game to make it 51-38.

“We can't rely just on one girl,” Ruppert said. “We have to learn that you're playing varsity basketball. Some of the girls are a little unsure of themselves. They'll get better.”

The Coyotes had offensive woes in the first half. Haley Raymond had a triple and Justin netted seven. Justin netted seven points in the second quarter to make it a 30-14 halftime lead.

“In the first half, we missed some easy layups and free throws,” Koopman said. In the second half, we started playing loose. We got right back in it. It's hard coming from behind on a good team. We didn't crash the boards.”

Pine River also had a 45-15 edge on the board, led by Cayman Gatt with eight, while Raymond and Chelsea Nelson finished with seven each.

“I told the girls that this is the first game of the year and we've got 19 more to go,” Koopman said. “We've done it every year and we've gotten better going into the district finals. We can't dwell on this. I feel good with the second half and how we played. That's the key. We have to build off of that.”

Lockhart hurt her ankle in the third quarter after taking a nasty spill but still helped the Coyotes have a strong second half.

“We played basketball together and were decent on defense,” Lockhart said of the second half. “I'm out there to be a leader on the court.”

Reed City plays at Cadillac Friday night. Pine River is home with Morley Stanwood on Thursday.

“We'll have to play better,” Ruppert said. “We'll have to protect the ball better. We'll have to box out. They're bigger than us.”

PINE RIVER 55, REED CITY 42 Reed City 6 8 16 12 — 42

Pine River 15 15 10 15 — 55

Reed City (0-1)

Emma Lockhart 3 2-2 8, Jordyn Mason 4 5-7 13, Amanda Steig 2 1-3 5, Kalee Hensel 3 7-12 13, Tia Lockhart 0 0-0 0, Kasey Miller 0 0-0 0, Karah Hensel 1 0-0 2, Allyson Steig 0 1-1 1. Totals 13 16-25 42.

Pine River (1-0)

Jamie Justin 4(1) 10-13 21, Cayman Gatt 1 1-2 3, Haley Raymond 3 (1) 0-0 9, Chelsea Nelson 1 2-3 4, Kassy Nelson 1 (3) 2-2 13, Michelle Kelsey 0 0-0 0, Erica Buchner 1 0-0 2, Devyn Powell 1 1-3 3. Totals 12 (5) 16-23 55.

Rebounds: Pine River 45 (Gatt 8, Raymond 7, Chelsea Nelson 7). Reed City 15 (Mason 3, Kalee Hensel 3).

Steals: Pine River (Casey Nelson 4); Reed City (Hensel 4, Lockhart 2).