LEROY \u2014 Pine River coach Scott Benson had a lot of confidence in Mitch McDonald\u2019s skills as a basketball player before the season started. So far the Pine River freshman, who has been a key starter for his varsity team, has delivered. \u201cBased on this game, we\u2019re playing really good,\u201d McDonald said after the Bucks defeated Lake City 48-37 on Friday with the Pine River freshman scoring six points and dishing out three assists. \u201cI think this is one of the best games we\u2019ve played.\u201d Hustle has been the key behind his team\u2019s success, McDonald indicated. \u201cMost games we have all five guys hustle,\u201d he said, adding that as a freshman varsity player, \u201cthe guys have really welcomed me in and are helping me out at the varsity level. It\u2019s been fun. They\u2019ve made it fun for me.\u201d McDonald joined the team right at the start of preseason. \u201cI feel comfortable out there,\u201d he said. \u201cI\u2019ve been playing with these guys since maybe fifth grade. They make me comfortable out there.\u201d McDonald said his role has been to distribute and shoot the ball and play tight defense. \u201cI like to play defense,\u201d he said. \u201cI love to steal the ball.\u201d As the season progresses, McDonald hopes to get better on his shooting. \u201cI need to work on my confidence,\u201d he said, adding that as a team, \u201cI think we\u2019re capable of anything we set our minds to. If we pull ourselves together and play like this every night, I think our buckets will start to fall and it will all turn out good.\u201d Meanwhile, Pine River found the shooting touch in the nick of time Friday night. Hunter Powell netted 11 points and Grant Gugle came off the bench and scored all nine of his points in the fourth quarter in leading Pine River to a 48-37 Highland Conference boys basketball victory over Lake City. Devin Ruppert added nine points on three 3-pointers for Pine River. \u201cIt took us a little bit to figure out their zone,\u201d McDonald said. \u201cWe finally worked around and finally found the weaknesses.\u201d With Pine River leading 23-20 at halftime, Drew Marion had three points to open the quarter for the Trojans. The Bucks, meanwhile, continued to struggle in shooting from the floor against the Trojan zone, while the visitors went on a 11-1 run. When Mitch McDonald hit PR\u2019s first field goal of the half with 50 seconds left in the third, it was 31-26, Trojans. Skyler Nelson hit a triple for the Bucks moments later. Nolan Davenport, who had eight points in the quarter, scored just before the buzzer and Lake City led 33-29 going into the fourth. He also drew his fourth foul at 7:27 and went to the bench. The Bucks led at 34-33 at 6:17 on two Mitch McDonald free throws. The two teams then waged an intense back-and-forth battle for the lead. Devin Ruppert\u2019s layup at 3:12 made it 38-35, Bucks, and Ruppert added two free throws moments later, followed by a McDonald steal and layup for a 42-35 lead. With 1:17 left, Gugle hit two technical foul free throws and added another on a regular foul call for a 46-37 lead. \u201cI want to give credit to my guards, they did a decent job,\u201d said Pine River coach Scott Benson. \u201cThey were patient. We only had 12 turnovers. They sit in that zone. For the most part we really did a good job on the boards.\u201d Gugle acknowledged having a strange feeling shooting free throws with no one standing outside the lane. \u201cI shoot like 100 free throws at a shootaround thing and that helps a little bit,\u201d he said. \u201cI was still nervous but I knew I\u2019d make them.\u201d Davenport also had a slap-happy block to open the fourth quarter. In the first quarter the Bucks fired out to a 5-0 lead before the Trojans found their touch. Drew Marion had a tip-in late in the quarter for a 13-7 lead. Hunter Nelson helped the Bucks get back in the game with two field goals and Joey Bowman, from off the bench, hit three baskets to put the hosts in front. The game was tied 20-20 but Nelson netted his second triple of the quarter to give the Bucks the three-point halftime lead. \u201cI think our team pressure defense really helped,\u201d McDonald said. \u201cGrant, Joey, Skyler, Lincoln (Erickson) all of those guys pressure them. It was all-around team hustle.\u201d \u201cWe made the shots when we had to and got key steals,\u201d Gugle said. Pine River, 6-5 in the league and 11-6 overall, plays at Evart on Thursday.