When a large group of freshmen appeared for the first formal practice of the year for Foran High, fourth-year head coach Bob Asmussen began to realize that this could be the year of the turnaround.

"We now have numbers well into the twenties," Asmussen said. "That's very encouraging. We've taken some baby steps. I've seen improvement along the way. Now, it's time to take a significant step. I believe that we're on the verge of turning the corner."

The Lions open at home Tuesday night against Lauralton Hall at 7 and will visit Harding High on Friday at 5:30.

The Lions lost only one senior, Jade Lord, off of last year's squad and return three players who logged lots of minutes during the 2017-18 season.

Heading the returnees is senior Jasmine Lord, who will start for her fourth year. Lord averaged 13.8 points and seven rebounds last year.

She'll team at forward with junior Mia Tunucci (12 ppg and 9.2 rebounds).

Emma Lucas, a senior, gets the nod at center.

The strength of this team could lie in the guard play of senior Sam Inthapanhya (5 ppg) and sophomore Lauren Heenan  (6 ppg).

Heenen drew a starting spot as a freshman and developed into a three-point shooter.

A good ball-handler, Inthapanhya will be counted on for additional scoring.

"I've always believed that good defense leads to good offense,"Asmussen said. "We want to play an up-tempo game. This looks like the first year that we'll be able to do that."

Using a fast-break, pressing approach, means that Asmussen will need players coming off the bench to spell the starters.

Included in that group are senior Kailey Loewenberg,  junior Bridget Collins, and freshmen Mia Loewenberg, Courtney Musante, Mackenzie Wisnieski and Abby Sanwald.

"What we lack in depth, we will be able to make up for in experience," Asmussen said. "It will be important, however, to give as many kids as we can minutes as the season goes along."

The Lions had four preseason scrimmages and two of them in particular with Career Magnet and Newtown, proved to be good learning experiences.

"Our kids were thrown into the fire in both of those,"Asmussen said. "In order to get better, we have to play strong competition."

This year, Foran will host the Milford Holiday Tourament on Dec. 27-28 with the visiting schools being Law, Sacred Heart Academy (Hamden) and Branford. The Lions will play both the Pacers and Hornets.

"I never like to put a number (wins) on any one particular season," Asmussen said. "My thought is that we need to get better as the season moves along. We've made the tournament (Class L) the past two years as a fill-in team (to complete the 32-team field). This year we want to win at least eight games which would not only put us the the state field, but qualify us for the SCC (Southern Connecticut Conference) playoffs."