L'ANSE - One thing you can say for the L'Anse High School boys basketball team this season is the Purple Hornets aren't going to duck anyone.
LHS coach Mike Ostermeyer added Westwood twice, Negaunee and Ishpeming to the schedule this winter.
"The Mid Peninsula Conference is a great conference," he said. "And playing those teams will help prepare us for the tournaments."
Perennial Class D powerhouse Ewen-Trout Creek is also on the L'Anse slate.
To get ready for that testing schedule, Ostermeyer has a cadre of players with a lot of experience under their belts.
Junior center-forward Jim Veker is the big gun for the Purple Gang. The 6-foot-3 Veker was good for 18 points and 10 rebounds an outing last season in earning All-U.P. honors.
Dec. 3 - At Jeffers, 7:20 p.m.
Dec. 6 - At Houghton, 7:20 p.m.
Dec. 10 - Westwood, 7:20 p.m.
Dec. 18 - Baraga, 7:20 p.m.
Jan. 3 - Calumet, 7:20 p.m.
Jan. 4 - At Ishpeming, 7:45 p.m.
Jan. 7 - Houghton, 7:20 p.m.
Jan. 10 - Chassell, 7:20 p.m.
Jan. 15 - Negaunee, 7:20 p.m.
Jan. 18 - West Iron County, 7:20 p.m.
Jan. 22 - Jeffers, 7:20 p.m.
Jan. 25 - At Ewen-TC, 7:20 p.m.
Jan. 29 - At Baraga, 7:20 p.m.
Feb. 1 - At Hancock, 7:20 p.m.
Feb. 8 - LL-Hubbell, 7:20 p.m.
Feb. 12 - At Calumet, 7:20 p.m.
Feb. 15 - At W. Iron County, 7:20 p.m.
Feb. 19 - At Ontonagon, 7:20 p.m.
Feb. 26 - Hancock, 7:20 p.m.
Feb. 28 - At Westwood, 7:45 p.m.
"Jimmy (Veker) is a tough matchup for anyone," Ostermeyer said. "He can play inside and he can play outside. He's a good all-around player."
Juniors Daniel Perrow and Jacob Ostermeyer are also in their third year on the varsity, while Keith Denomie enters his second year.
Perrow and Ostermeyer will be in the backcourt, the latter at the point.
"We feel pretty good about those two in the backcourt," the L'Anse coach said. "Perrow has started every game since he broke in. Ostermeyer is a very versatile and intelligent player."
Juniors Jonny Magaraggia and Brett Martinez add quickness and scoring punch in the backcourt, as well.
Junior Chris Johnson and senior Logan Roe are swing players who can contribute.
The 6-2, 220-pound Denomie adds more muscle in the frontcourt and should abet the high-jumping Veker.
Senior forward Joey Hansen, described by his coach as "very athletic and a good defender," and junior Alex Karcher should also provide rebounding and interior defense.
Coach Ostermeyer says he has a "young, but experienced, team."
"We're young in years, but pretty tested," he said.
The West PAC promises to be up for grabs, according to the LHS coach.
"I think just about anyone could win it. Calumet should be pretty good; Hancock has a big (6-8) center in Alex Almquist; Ironwood has some good athletes; Houghton returns quite a few players; and West Iron will be tough as usual. I think we have a good shot to contend, though," he said.