Photo by Bill Roseberry
Pictured are the seniors on the 2014-15 Roxana girls' basketball team, (front row, from left) Cindy Scroggins and Elizabeth Rexford; (back row, from left) Alyssa Stacy, Erica Sheets and Maddy Sheraka.
One year after returning to head coaching ranks, Tammy Talbert sees good things awaiting the Roxana Shells.
The Shells went 13-18 last season for Talbert, formerly the girls’ basketball coach at both Alton High and Marquette Catholic. She hadn’t served as a head coach for six seasons, but getting an opportunity to guide the Shells intrigued her. Now, Talbert is searching for loftier things following a transition season.
“It’s nice getting back into it and coaching again,” she said. “And the support people at Roxana are very good, so it has been a good experience.
“It took me a while to get back into the mode of being a head coach. But I feel more comfortable doing it. It feels like a good fit.”
She’s confident of more good experiences this season. Roxana returns several key players, including leading scorer Maddy Sheraka. The 5-foot-8 senior averaged 20.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in establishing herself as one of the top players in the River Bend.
“I think we can be competitive in the South Central Conference,” she said. “It’s a tough conference, but we can play in it. We have some speed and a little more depth than we had last year.”
Sheraka makes the Shells a legitimate player in the SCC.
“She’s an all-around good player and has improved over the summer,” Talbert said. “She can get open for shots, attack the basket and has learned to use her left hand better. Her ball-handling has improved and we want to put the ball in her hands.”
That’s fine with Sheraka, the 10th-leading scorer in the St. Louis area a year ago. She was second among Southwestern Illinois players.
“I like to think I have improved from last season,” Sheraka said. “I played select summer basketball with the St. Louis Hype in a tough league. I definitely have improved my ball-handling and I have more confidence in that area.”
She figures the Shells also will be more confident.
“We can be a competitive team in the conference,” Sheraka said. “We’d like to have a winning record and maybe win a regional championship.
“I’m really excited because it’s my senior season.”
Roxana was 14-13 two years ago and its last winning record before that was 15-13 in 2003-04. The Shells haven’t won a regional title since 2002.
Talbert has quality players to complement Sheraka in the Shells’ quest for a successful season. Erica Sheets, a 5-10 senior center, and Alyssa Stacy, a 5-7 senior guard, are two key returnees.
“Erica got a lot of experience last year,” Talbert said. “We’re hoping she will give us not only a solid outside game, but a strong inside one. We’re hoping Alyssa will step up a little bit after getting her first varsity experience last year. She can shoot it.”
Cindy Scroggins, a 5-9 senior; Elizabeth Rexford, a 5-5 senior; Hannah Rexford, a 5-5 freshman; Sara Kreutztrager, a 5-7 freshman; Abby Palen, a 5-7 sophomore; Cassie Vanzo, a 5-5 sophomore; and Dominique McDonald, a 5-7 sophomore, also should log ample playing time.
“We’re going to try and press some, and hope to get turnovers from our pressure defense,” Talbert said. The Shells opened their season this week in the Dupo Tournament.
ROXANA SHELLS GIRLS’ BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Nov. 17, 20, 22 – Dupo Cat Classic, TBA
Nov. 24 – Greenville*, 7:30
Dec. 1 – vs. Metro East Lutheran, 7:30
Dec. 4 – vs. Bunker Hill, 7:30
Dec. 8 – vs. Staunton*, 7:30
Dec. 11 – at Litchfield*, 7:30
Dec. 15 – vs. Carlinville*, 7:30
Dec. 16-19 – Waterloo Gibault Tournament, TBA
Jan. 5 – at CM, 7:30
Jan. 10 – vs. Pana*, 2:30
Jan. 12 – at Gillespie*, 7:30
Jan. 15 – at Hillsboro*, 7:30
Jan. 19 – at EA-WR, 7:30
Jan. 22 – at Marquette, 7:30
Jan. 26 – at Waterloo Gibault, 7:45
Jan. 29 – at Vandalia*, 7:30
Feb. 2 – vs. Southwestern*, 7:30
Feb. 5 – vs. Dupo, 7:30
*Denotes conference games
ROXANA SHELLS GIRLS’ BASKETBALL ROSTER
Coach: Tammy Talbert
Record last season: 13-18
Career record at school: 13-18
Maddy Sheraka, 5-8 G-F
Erica Sheets, 6-1 C
Alyssa Stacy, 5-7 G
Cindy Scroggins, 5-9 C
Elizabeth Rexford, 5-5 G
Abby Palen, 5-7 G-F
Cassie Vanzo, 5-5 G
Dominique McDonald, 5-7 G-F
Hannah Rexford, 5-5 G
Sara Kreutztrager, 5-7 F-C
Sheraka returns for her senior year after leading the Shells in scoring last season. The offense looks to go through Sheraka again, who worked in the offseason to become even more explosive with the basketball.
Standing at 6-foot-1, Sheets looks to be a force around the basket for Roxana. She earned valuable experience last season and looks to use it to be improved in ‘14-15 for the Shells.