Sydney Royce of Rangeley looks for an open teammate while being pressured by Deja Bennett of Buckfield on Friday. 

Rangeley loses two starters from last year’s team, which failed to reach the Class D South regional semifinals for the first time since 2011.

But back is top player Natasha Haley, a senior. Along with her is a couple handfuls of young players who gained varsity experience in 2016-17, and should give Heidi Deery, in her 24th year as head coach, a deep bench this season as they play uptempo on both ends of the floors.

Brooke Egan and Lauren Eastlack were starters, and Olivia Pye came off the bench. Rangeley also adds a pair of athletic eighth-graders in Winnie LaRochelle and Emily Eastlack.

The Lakers should again be among the top teams in Class D South. However, the favorite has to be defending state champion Vinalhaven.

The Vikings claimed their school’s first state championship last season with only one senior on the squad.

Among the many contributors back is 5-foot-10 Gilleyanne Davis-Oakes, who scored 28 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in Vinalhaven’s state-title game win over Shead.

Rangeley can’t be counted out, though. The Lakers split with Vinalhaven last year and had the best regular season record and most Heal points in D South, which earned them the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

Forest Hills usually has a tough team, as proven when it bounced Rangeley in the D South semifinals last year.

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