Photo by Bill Roseberry
Pictured are members of the 2015-16 Roxana girls’ basketball squad. Kneeling in front from left to right are: Domenique McDonald, Hannah Rexford, Abby Palen and Lindsey Scroggins. In back from left to right are: Samantha Edwards, Sara Kreutztrager, Emma Lucas and Cassi Vanzo.
It’s a different look for the Roxana girls’ basketball team this season. The Shells will be doing more rebuilding than reloading.
And that’s understandable. Roxana graduated seniors Maddy Sheraka, Erica Sheets, Alyssa Stacy, Elizabeth Rexford and Cindy Scroggins from a team that posted a 16-12 record.
Sheraka, the career leading scorer with 1,341 points, is playing college basketball at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville. She averaged 18.8 points per game last season. Sheets served as the team’s top rebounder and was the second leading scorer.
“We have a young team,” said third-year coach Tammy Talbert, a former head coach at Alton and Marquette Catholic. “We lost five seniors, including three starters, but we do have a couple of returning starters. Those returning starters got a lot of varsity time last season.”
The Shells should find out in a hurry how much rebuilding is necessary. They are cast in this week’s Dupo Cat Classic. Roxana opened its season Monday against Marissa and Talbert was interested to see how the blend of talent melded. The Shells topped the Meteors 28-25 in that contest.
Sheraka may be the Shells’ toughest player to replace. She served as the Shells’ top gun and gave them a comfort zone when they sought one.
“Maddy was extremely important to us and the other players had a lot of confidence in her. They learned from her,” Talbert said.
Sam Edwards, a 5-foot-4 guard, is the lone senior on a junior-laden team. So Talbert is hoping her younger players will continue to progress and assume the leadership duties supplied by the graduated players.
“The players coming back are working hard and we have a good group of sophomores and juniors,” Talbert said. “Hopefully, they will rely on each other because we will need to do that. We do have some speed and quickness.”
Hannah Rexford, a 5-7 lefty sophomore, could emerge as vital to the Shells’ success. She averaged 6.6 points and 7 rebounds a game last season.
“She’s capable of doing good things and she's a physical player,” Talbert said. “We will be relying on her a lot.”
Abby Palen, a 5-6 junior guard, figures to run the offense from the point guard position. So goes Palen, so go the Shells might be their refrain since they will feature emphasis with their backcourt play. “Hopefully, she will set the tone for our offense,” Talbert added.
Emma Lucas, a 5-6 sophomore, also likely will be cast as a starting guard. “She could be a big scorer for us,” Talbert said.
Sara Kreutztrager, a 5-10 sophomore and the team’s tallest starter, also returns. Talbert has the luxury of playing her away from the basket or close to it.
“She could be a presence in the middle and do some scoring,” Talbert said. Kreutztrager averaged 4.6 ppg in 2014-15.
Domenique McDonald, a 5-8 junior, figures to work up front, perhaps at center.
“She’s a physical player,” Talbert said.
Cassi Vanzo, a 5-5 junior, joins 5-6 juniors Taylor Antoine and Ashley Betts, along with Edwards, in adding to the Shells’ depth. Three more sophomores and a trio of freshmen also could compete for varsity roles.
“We will need to have hard-nosed and gritty play because of our inexperience,” Talbert said.
She points to Southwestern and Litchfield as the teams to beat in the 10-school South Central Conference. Roxana could have some say about what happens in deciding a league championship.
“Our goal is to be competitive in the conference and to get some good conference wins,” Talbert said. “We will need to be ready to play every game.”
She pointed out, “We're going to be a team that relies on each other. We won’t have a player score 20 points a game like Maddy did last year. We will be undersized, so we need to make up for that with scrappy play.”
NAME HT POS
Sam Edwards 5-4 G
Taylor Antoine 5-6 F
Ashley Betts 5-6 G
Domenique McDonald 5-8 C
Abby Palen 5-6 G
Cassi Vanzo 5-5 G
Anna-Marie Bailey 5-5 G
Sara Kreutztrager 5-10 G-F
Emma Lucas 5-6 F
Jessica Levan 5-9 G-F
Hannah Rexford 5-7 G
Lindsey Scroggins 5-7 F