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Big three lead L’Anse in win over Baraga

December 15, 2012
By PAUL PETERSON , Houghton Daily Mining Gazette

BARAGA - The "big three" of the L'Anse Purple Hornets proved to be too big of an obstacle for the Baraga Lady Vikings to overcome Friday night.

Madi Swanson, Valerie Rajala and Kelsey Ross combined to pour in 61 points in a 66-49 LHS victory in the latest "Battle of the Bay."

"She (Swanson) is just one of those players who seems to score points ... even when it looks like she isn't," Baraga coach Mariah Dunham said afterward. "She just finds a way to score."

Swanson, a junior guard, filled the stats box with a game-high 32 points, five steals and four assists.

But Rajala was steady with 16 points and a game-best 16 rebounds. Ross poured in 13 points, hitting three triples.

Hornets' coach Scott Lloyd said his dynamic trio accomplished a lot, but said other players made key contributions.

"Our team defense was pretty good and I thought Kelly Larson did a nice job on Brittany Nieskes. It isn't just our three big players who make a difference," Lloyd said.

Playing before a big crowd, the Lady Vikings managed to make it an entertaining game for a half.

A last-second hoop by Nieskes reduced the L'Anse lead to 33-24 at the half.

"I thought we had some momentum going into the lockerroom at the half," Dunham said. "But L'Anse came out in the third quarter and took it right away."

Swanson, who netted 20 points in the opening half, added eight more in the third frame as LHS grabbed a 48-31 spread at quarter's end.

Rajala, who was big under the hoop, scored 11 points over the final two periods. She made 10-of-13 free throws.

Baraga managed to stick around behind the three-point shooting of Jenna Heikkinen and Rebecca Larson, but couldn't make any inroads into the deficit.

Lloyd was somewhat concerned about the rebounding advantage (39-29) that Baraga managed.

"They (Vikings) did a good job of getting second and third shots," he said. "And with our lack of size, that's been a concern. But we'll work around it."

The 1-3 Baraga team was paced by 16 points apiece from Heikkinen and Larson. Both hit four 3s apiece.



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