MANISTIQUE - The Manistique Emeralds are heading into the 2012-13 season with a fairly even mix of youth and experience, and they are hoping that the combination will be one that produces some good results.
After finishing last season with an 8-14 overall record, the Emeralds lost five of their benchmark players to graduation. However, they also returned four seniors to their squad this season, which begins Tuesday at Munising.
Kyra Lauzon, Hunter Ashbrook, Mindy Hoholik and Gabbie Lafayette are back for the 2012-13 season, and coach Kelly Spettel is hopeful that these girls can help to make things happen, as well as lead their underclassmen.
"Mindy (Hoholik) is an inside presence for us, and she might be the best rebounder on the team this year, and she is also a great defender," she said. "I'm going to be looking for her to score a little more this year.
"And having Kyra (Lauzon) will help us, because she knows this conference well. She's a really good guard for us, and I expect she'll have quite a bit of success."
Spettel also said that the return of Lafayette and Ashbrook will strengthen their team, and a big reason for that is because of their ability and their versatility in differing positions.
Nov. 27 - At Munising, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 30 - Negaunee, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 6 - At Norway, 8 p.m.
Dec. 10 - At Rudyard, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 14 - Iron Mountain, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 21 - Westwood, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 28 - Newberry, 6 p.m.
Jan. 4 - At Negaunee, 7:45 p.m.
Jan. 11 - Gladstone, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 15 - Munising, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 18 - At Ishpeming, 7:45 p.m.
Jan. 24 - Norway, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 28 - At Gwinn, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 31 - At Iron Mountain, 7:45 p.m.
Feb. 4 - At St. Ignace, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 5 - Gwinn, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 8 - At Westwood, 6 p.m.
Feb. 13 - At Newberry, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 19 - Ishpeming, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 21 - Big Bay de Noc, 7:30 p.m.
"Gabbie (Lafayette) is probably our best pure shooter, and both her and Hunter can play guard or the forward position for us. Plus, Hunter's got a nice outside shot and Gabby runs the floor well."
New additions to the roster include juniors Leah Cook and Breanna Bosanic, in addition to sophomore Maggie Morrison. Freshmen Lexi Carlson and Lindsay Knuth have also been called up, and senior Maryse Hinkson has returned to Manistique basketball after taking her junior year off.
"We're really excited to have (Hinkson) back in the program," Spettel said.
Regardless of their youth, Spettel expects that her team will be able to hold their own in the Mid-Peninsula Conference.
"There has been a lot of firepower lost in the conference due to graduation," Spettel said. "I think that right now, the assumption is that the best team is going to be Ishpeming. They've got some experience coming back and they've got some really nice guards and inside players, so I think they're going to be one of the strongest."
With that being said, Spettel added that she thinks her Emerald team will be able to match up well against just about any of the teams in the conference.
"Things are looking really good," she said.