VanOrder, Evart eager to pick up that first basketball win


EVART — Evart’s girls basketball team entered this week still looking for that first win. But the return of sophomore Mara VanOrder in recent games has been a boost for the Wildcats.

Last week, the Pine River girls basketball team picked up a 70-25 victory over Evart on Tuesday night in Highland Conference play.

The Bucks (9-2, 6-1 Highland) were led by Michelle Kelsey’s 23 points, seven rebounds and five steals. Kassy Nelson added 17 points, nine rebounds and five assists and Kierra Justin had eight points and seven boards for the Bucks.

Evart fell to 0-11 after the lopsided loss.

The Wildcats were led by Mara VanOrder with 12 points and six rebounds while Kristen Kullman had five points and five rebounds.

The previous Saturday, the Wildcats lost 54-51 and had a big first quarter with a 16-3 advantage over Manton.

VanOrder has missed various games lately because of an ankle injury. The Bucks were bouncing off a 100-25 loss to McBain the most recent game.

“I thought it was really awesome to see the girls and myself not getting down on confidence level, getting beat by this much,” VanOrder said. “We could have said  ‘this is it, we put in all of this hard work and are getting nothing out of it.’ But we still came out with intensity like we were going to win.”

The 16-3 first quarter lead for Evart was her team’s best of the season, VanOrder indicated. But staying out of foul trouble is critical. She had foul problems against Manton but Pine River was a different deal.

“I stayed out of foul trouble which was my goal. One thing we needed to improve on against Pine River is we didn’t rebound or box out,” VanOrder said.

The key to stay out of foul trouble “for me personally is to go straight up when the girl is driving for a layup and to not foul on defense to try to get the ball back,” VanOrder said.

VanOrder has also been getting strong support from other teammates.

“Kristin (Kullman) is hitting threes,” VanOrder said. “Tabby (Turley) is getting the ball into the post more.”

The Wildcats, who have had various games postponed lately because of weather conditions, are home Thursday against Beal City.