The Pirates are led by a group of five experienced seniors in Samuelson and guards Katie Davidson, Kaylee Desrosier, Kylie Simmons and Taylor Demarais.

The Pirates lost two seniors off last year's squad that fell in the Section 8AA quarterfinals to eventual section champion Pequot Lakes. This year's Pirates are poised to make a deep run into the section playoffs.

"We need to keep getting better," said Pirate head coach Lon Boike, entering his fifth season. "This group of girls has high expectations for themselves. The preseason polls have us in the top ten or 15. Our main goal is to get to state. We will be shooting to make a run at the state tournament."

The Pirates were without the services of Kenzie Klatt in that final playoff game last season and Erica Samuelson was hobbled by a knee injury, limiting her effectiveness in the game.

Both underwent knee surgeries and are expected to be ready for the start of the season.

The Pirates are led by a group of five experienced seniors in Samuelson and guards Katie Davidson, Kaylee Desrosier, Kylie Simmons and Taylor Demarais.

Samuelson averaged 8.9 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game in 27 games.

"Those five seniors give us great leadership by setting good examples in practice, setting tone for practice and expectations.

"Taylor, the point guard, will do a lot of ball distributing and a lot of fast breaks, coach Boike said. "We'll get her the ball to push it up the court. She's the person who handles the ball quite a bit and gets it to the right people.

"Erica and Katie are both very intelligent on the court," coach Boike continued. "They've come ready to play and have looked very good. Erica is shooting very good. She is very good at knowing where to be and helping teammates get to their spots. Katie is the same way. She is better this year and she has worked hard on her shooting. She is doing everything she's asked to do.

"Kaylee and Kylie are both good outside threats," coach Boike noted.

Adding to the fab five seniors are fab five sophomores in Klatt, Amber Froeber, Brooke Heggie, Danica Brekken and Sydney Boike.

Boike led the Pirates in scoring last season with 12.8 points per game in 28 games. She added 5.8 rebounds per game.

"Those five sophomores have put a lot of time into their game," coach Boike said. "Sydney and Brooke both played AAU ball and Danica looks very good this year. Kenzie is looking better every day and Amber is playing very well right now too. Those five will be counted upon heavily to contribute."

With ten players that could all start on just about any other team in the area the Pirates are loaded with talent.

"We are a real solid ten deep," coach Boike said. "It's a long season and we are starting with two players already recovering. You never know what's going to happen. We'll be able to keep fresh bodies in the game and you can't do that with just five people. Our depth is really, really good and we're going to take advantage of that."

Also on the varsity roster are two juniors, Emily Samuelson and Carly Welter, who coach Boike noted will see some varsity time.

The Pirates will be a run-and-gun type of team but they need to limit the turnovers that hurt them in the first half of last season.

"We're going to try to get up and down and run quite a bit," explained coach Boike. "We are ten to 12 girls deep and they will step in and play a lot. We want to push the tempo and run as much as we can.

"Early in the year we had a lot of turnovers with a lot of young players playing," Boike continued. "Cutting down turnovers and rebounding better will be important. Doing those things better will help us."

The Pirates have high goals and high expectations this season. They were invited to the Breakdown Tip-Off Classic in Hopkins, Minn. Dec. 1 to face Robbinsdale Cooper. The season begins Tuesday, Nov. 27 at home against Moorhead. The opening tip is set for 7 p.m.

"We'll have to come out and play to the best of our ability," Boike said. "If each player comes out and plays to the best of their ability we're going to be really, really good. We have to stay mentally strong in order to play at a high level."