Three senior letter winners return to the basketball court for the Lanesboro girls' team this season. They'll be asked to lead the 2012/13 squad, along with some juniors and a sophomore who saw plenty of action last year.

The Burros have a new head coach this year in Kelly McMillen, who previously served as an assistant at LHS. He'll be joined by first year assistant coach Gina Klennert.

After posting a record of 13-14 last year, the Burros graduated four talented seniors. The team can get back to the .500 mark or better this year if young players can step up quickly, McMillen said.

Letter winners include senior Alisa Warnes (5'9"), who won honorable mention in conference awards last year. Playing at forward, she averaged 7.3 points per game in 11-12, along with 1.0 steals and 6.73 rebounds. Warnes could be the Burros' toughest post player this year, McMillen said. "(We're) asking her to step out of her comfort zone and be more active on the defensive end," he stated.

Senior letter winner Johanna Bearson is listed at guard. At 5'4," she's probably the team's best ball handler. The team will look to her to run the offense this season, McMillen said. Bearson averaged 6.4 points, 1.9 assist and 2.7 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game last year.

Kirsten Ruen is the third senior letter winner. The 5'6" guard averaged 4.5 points, 1.0 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game in '11-12. McMillen said Ruen is capable of playing many positions and understands them all, bringing a lot of energy to the floor. "(She's a) great team player and sets an example for others to follow," he noted.

Juniors Heather Boyum and Kaia Hongerholt are also returning letter winners. Five foot five Hongerholt will be at guard/forward, while 5'8" Boyum is listed at post. McMillen said that both have been putting in a lot of effort prior to the season. Hongerholt is an excellent passer and midrange shooter and Boyum is one of the team's most consistent all-around shooters, he added.

Junior Lexi Lea is probably the hardest worker on the team, McMillen said. Lea also lettered last year, although she and Boyum saw less minutes than the returning seniors. Classmate Chelsey Hanson is out for basketball for her first year but is athletic, a good ball handler and a decent midrange shooter, according to the coach. "She could be a pleasant surprise for us," he concluded.

Sophomore Bailey Gartner lettered as a freshman and played a lot of basketball on the varsity squad. Described as "a very hard worker," Gartner will be called upon to handle the ball for the Burros this year along with Bearson.

Other leading candidates for some varsity game time this year include sophomore Olivia Haug, who McMillen said shows great potential, and sophomores Haley Leiding, Kayla Leiding, Rosie Jones, Claire Peterson, Steph Erickson and Kelsey O'Koren, all of whom can play at the varsity level. All except Jones have B team experience, and each brings a great deal of hard work, energy and overall potential to the team, the coach said.

As far as favorites in the conference and section, "Spring Grove is the favorite until someone proves otherwise," McMillen stated. "Grand Meadow, Houston and Mabel will be good too."

The Burros are set to host Mabel-Canton on Nov. 27, followed by a trip to Grand Meadow on Dec. 7.