MENOMINEE — Experience and depth won’t be an issue for a Menominee girls basketball team which returns eight players from last year’s squad that took a trip to Gaylord, Mich., for the Division 2 Region 4 championship game.

Five juniors and three seniors will have the experience necessary to help along the three sophomores that Menominee coach Lucas Chouinard has called up to fill out the 11-player roster, allowing the Maroons to jump right into things on the first day of practice.

“That experience definitely helps because we were able to start day 1 and the girls already have an understanding of the expectations and how we do things,” he said. “So the installation process the first two weeks has gone really smooth, now it’s just fine-tuning the little things to make sure we can take our game to the next level.”

Helping the Maroons to get that next level will be 6-foot-2 junior post player Emma Anderson, who returns after leading Menominee in all major categories besides assists, including points (17.3 per game) and rebounds (8 per game).

While teams will have to do all they can to stop Anderson from scoring in the paint where she did the majority of her damage (188 points in the paint), they still have to respect her shot from beyond the arc as she led Menominee with 35 3-pointers on 31.8 percent shooting.

Also returning in the Maroons’ starting lineup are juniors Erin Barrette (5-6), Mackenzie Wellner (5-8) and Jenna Nolde (5-5).

Barrette controls the offense with her ball-handling and distributing abilities as the Maroons’ point guard, where she was second on the team in points per game (8.4) and led the way in assists per game (3.3), steals (63) and deflections (83).

Nolde is another guard who got the starting job late in the season last year and held it thanks to her lockdown defense and marksmanship from long-range. She averaged 8.1 points per game and was second on the team in 3-pointers (27), deflections (68) and steals (49).

A post player that takes a lot of the defensive weight off Anderson’s shoulders, Wellner was second on the team in rebounds (87) and blocks (22) and had a clutch performance against Gladstone in the district final to help the Maroons advance in the postseason.

All three of them along with 5-5 junior Josie Hofer — who is stepping into a starting role after being one of the first off the bench in her sophomore campaign with the Maroons — have the ability to score points in bunches if opposing teams are able to take Anderson out of the offense.

“Obviously, the main focus is on Emma. She’s our leading scorer the past two years, so teams are definitely going to give a lot of their focus to her, however we have a complement of players that do a lot of great things,” Choiunard said. “It makes our team very dynamic and hard to guard, because we always four other girls on the court that can do damage besides Emma and that makes it easier for us to get the open shots we want.”

The three returning seniors for Menominee are Jaida Lesperance (5-7), Lauren Caley-Nelson (5-10) and Kylie Wickstrom (5-7), all of whom saw action off the bench a season ago.

Although it’s been only a year, Chouinard can already see a lot of growth in his returning players and is looking for them to build off that for the remainder of the season.

“I’ve seen a much more mature team so far. They know what they need to do in order to be successful this year,” he said. “We worked on our faults from last year over the summer and that really paid off. We’re looking forward to good things with that group and I’m liking our chances for the season based off what I’ve seen so far.”

The three newcomers for Menominee are sophomores Anna Nerat (5-10), Rylee Doyle (5-4) and Kennedy Olson (5-9) and after seeing them play with the varsity team over the summer, Chouinard is optimistic about how they will acclimate to the difference in the level of competition from JV to varsity.

“Anna, Rylee and Kennedy all got a chance to learn how it is to play at the varsity level over the summer with the us and they could see how much different it was, and their effort and attitudes have been tremendous. They really fit well with this group,” Chouinard said.

Last year, Menominee played well in non-conference games and against non-Upper Peninsula teams, going 10-2 against teams not in the Great Northern Conference and 8-1 against non-U.P. teams. On the flipside, the Maroons struggled to a 3-5 record in the GNC and 5-8 against U.P. squads. Menominee finished the season 16-8 overall including playoffs.

The Maroons begin the season today with a 7 p.m. tipoff in Sturgeon Bay, and Chouinard and his team can’t wait to get out on the floor.

“It’s an exciting time because the games are finally here,” he said.

“We’re ready to get rollin’.”