Hornets, Swanson soar

HANCOCK – For many L’Anse Purple Hornets, it was an excellent night. For one, it was historic.

L’Anse’s Madi Swanson because the leading girls’ basketball scorer in school history midway through a 75-44 WestPAC conquest of Hancock.

Swanson passed Brooke Sirard’s total of 1,252 points with a bucket with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter.

Thursday’s game gave Hancock a chance to trip up L’Anse’s league chances in the same way the Bulldogs did to Calumet a week and a half ago, but the Hornets removed all doubt early, scoring the game’s first 17 points and holding the hosts scoreless in the first quarter.

“I told the girls, we’ve got to bring energy, and I think after the first quarter, you saw we brought a lot,” L’Anse coach Scott Lloyd said.

What was noteworthy about the game-opening run was much of it came from sources outside what Lloyd has referred to the Hornets’ “big three,” Swanson, guard Kelsey Ross and forward Valerie Rajala, all seniors.

Abbey Hendrickson and Lindsey Hulkonen made buckets, Maddie Etelamaki knocked down three and L’Anse took advantage of a defense tuned to ward off Swanson on the drive and Ross from outside the three-point arc.

“You take away Ross’s three-point opportunities and you hug her and you hug Swanson and other girls step up and hit shots, what do you do?” Hancock coach Jack Johnson said.

Hancock got on the board with the first possession of the second quarter but trailed by 20 or more the whole way as L’Anse was nearly as effective on the defensive end as on the offense.

“When they play hard on defense, they reap those rewards, it just becomes like a snowball rolling downhill. The mojo is incredible,” Lloyd said.

Taylor Pertile led the Bulldogs, who fall to 11-4, 2-3 WestPAC, with nine points.

For L’Anse, Etelamaki finished with a game-high 13, Swanson and Ross both had 12 and Hendrickson 10.

Swanson, the Lake Superior State signee, stands at 1,259 with four regular season games and the postseason left for the Hornets, who are now 14-2, 4-1 in the WestPAC.

“You won’t find a more passionate player. She just loves the game of basketball. If she had her legs cut off this afternoon, she’d play ball tonight. That’s just how she is. There’s no quit in her and she rubs off on the other girls, she’s a great leader, and I think everybody that knows her is really glad to see that she accomplished what she has, because she’s more than well-deserving,” Lloyd said.

The teams play again in L’Anse on Wednesday night, though before that, Hancock plays at West Iron County Monday.