L'ANSE - The L'Anse High School girls basketball team is going to be a lot smaller than it has been in recent seasons, but that doesn't mean the Purple Hornets will take a backseat to any team on their schedule.
"We're almost tiny compared to some of our most recent teams," LHS coach Scott Lloyd said. "But we are pretty quick .... and we're going to have to use that to our advantage."
All-West PAC guard Madissen Swanson figures to be a key performer for the Purple Hornets.
The junior backcourt player led the team in most offensive departments a year ago, including points and steals.
"Maddie Swanson has the talent to be one of the top guards in the Upper Peninsula," Lloyd said. "She's a three-year starter and she knows our scheme."
Junior center Valerie Rajala is another three-year starter, and at 5-foot-8, is the tallest player on the roster.
Nov. 27 - At Chassell, 7:20 p.m.
Nov. 29 - At LL-Hubbell, 7:20 p.m.
Dec. 4 - Houghton, 7:20 p.m.
Dec. 7 - Jeffers, 7:20 p.m.
Dec. 11 - Negaunee, 7:20 p.m.
Dec. 14 - At Baraga, 7:20 p.m.
Dec. 20 - At Calumet, 7:20 p.m.
Jan. 8 - At Hancock, 7:20 p.m.
Jan. 11 - LL-Hubbell, 7:20 p.m.
Jan. 14 - Ishpeming, 7:20 p.m.
Jan. 15 - At Negaunee, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 18 - At Dollar Bay, 7:20 p.m.
Jan. 21 - Ontonagon, 7:20 p.m.
Jan. 24 - Baraga, 7:20 p.m.
Jan. 28 - At Houghton, 7:20 p.m.
Jan. 31 - Calumet, 7:20 p.m.
Feb. 4 - West Iron County, 7:20 p.m.
Feb. 7 - Hancock, 7:20 p.m.
Feb. 11 - At Ishpeming, 7:45 p.m.
Feb. 18 - At W. Iron County, 7:20 p.m.
"We're going to rely on her to do a lot of the rebounding and inside scoring," Lloyd said.
Junior Kelsey Ross will be the likely starter at the other guard spot and will get some time at the point to spell Swanson. She's also a good outside shooter.
Seniors Kelly Larson and Allison Koskinen are also penciled in for a lot of time.
"They're working hard and should be able to help us out," Lloyd said.
Junior Kayla LaBerge is another good possibility in the backcourt and possesses a good outside shot.
Foreign exchange student Freya Lyssy of Austria is an intriguing possibility in the frontcourt.
"She (Lyssy) has a chance to get time," Lloyd said. "She's a really good passer and good interior defender. She and Alyssa Norback could help us out inside."
Juniors Jackie Lister, Abby Marinich and Megan Johnson provide more depth for an LHS team that figures to use a lot players .
The West PAC race could be closer than usual this year. Perenial favorite Houghton lost several key players, but Lloyd still sees the Gremlins as the team to beat.
"Until someone beats them, they're the team," he said.
"But Calumet is extremely tall and could be a real threat. The rest of us have the potential to be in the there."
L'Anse opens on the road with games at Chassell and Lake Linden-Hubbell before hosting Houghton. LHS also plays Ishpeming and Negaunee twice this season.