ROXANA — The Roxana girls' basketball team kept the Staunton Bulldogs searching for their first win of the season after the Shells secured a 42-37 victory on Monday at Roxana's Milazzo Gymnasium.
After spending last week under the weather, Shells' senior Maddy Sheraka seemed to get her color back and revitalize her teammates on the court. Sheraka's 23 points paced Roxana as it improved its season record to 4-3 and 1-0 in the South Central Conference. Staunton dipped to 0-6 overall and 0-2 in the SCC.
"I feel so much better this week, I have a lot more energy." Sheraka said. "We were able to run a couple of isolation offenses, that really helps us be able to set some screens. I've worked hard in the offseason with select ball, but I feel I have a lot of room for improvement. We have two freshmen, Sara (Kreutztrager) and Hannah (Rexford), that get some consistent varsity time and I love working with them. They don't play like freshmen, which is rare at the varsity level."
The Shells took an early 6-0 lead and kept the Bulldogs scoreless until just over three minutes remaining in the first quarter. Staunton eventually found its bearings and made a game of it, adding seven points to the scoreboard before the buzzer sounded with the Shells leading 12-7.
Roxana and Staunton traded points midway through the second quarter to keep a tight 14-10 score. The Shells went on a scoring drive though, forging ahead at halftime by the score of 22-14.
The Bulldogs found some life in the third quarter as they stifled the Shells offense, containing them to four points in the frame. Staunton worked to the outside to put up 11 points and dwindle the Shells' lead to 26-25 entering the final eight minutes.
After trading hoops throughout the fourth quarter, the Shells took the lead with just 16.2 seconds remaining on the clock, bringing the score to 39-37. The Shells added three points in the final seconds to take the 42-37 win, while keeping the Bulldogs from digging up a final shot.
"The second half we came out and took care of the ball," said Staunton first-year head coach Kyle McBrain. "We had some key turnovers in the first half so in the second half we forced the ball inside and they're (Shells) zone collapsed. We were able to work the ball around the perimeter and made some outside shots. We played the way we should have the first half and we made a game of it."
Roxana improved their record to 4-3 with Sheraka scoring 23 points and maintaining her senior role as the team leader on the court. The Bulldogs fall to 0-6 in McBrains first year as Staunton's head coach.
The senior Sheraka's 23 points was enough to lead the Shells to victory. Roxana head coach Tammy Talbert praised Sheraka as the senior leader and go-to offensive player for the Shells, admitting she did exactly what she needed to do on Monday.
"She (Sheraka) plays hard and tonight she had her spurts," Talbert said. She's our go-to player, our clutch player. She missed some bunnies, but she was able to hit that clutch shot at the end of the game. We just need to keep working hard, but she did really good tonight.
“We have some strong players like Erica Sheets, she's critical for catching rebounds and we have some promising younger players. Sara and Hannah have started every varsity game so far and they're only going to get better. I have to be reminded that these girls played eighth grade basketball last year and they've surpassed JV and are playing at the varsity level."
Next up for the Shells will be a 6 p.m. contest on Thursday at SCC rival Litchfield.
ROXANA 42, STAUNTON 37
Roxana 12 10 4 16 — 42
Staunton 7 7 11 12 — 37
Roxana (4-3, 1-0) — Maddy Sheraka 23, Cindy Scroggins 6, Hannah Rexford 5, Erica Sheets 4, Sara Kreutztrager 3, Elizabeth Rexford 1.