CARLYLE – The hoop must have looked like a moving, spinning target for the Roxana High girls’ basketball team in Tuesday's first half.
The Shells couldn’t beg, borrow or steal a basket against Trenton Wesclin in a semifinal game of the Class 2A Carlyle Regional.
They made only 3 of 23 shots and fell behind 29-7. Wesclin never let up and sailed past the Shells, 66-39, to close Roxana’s season at 16-12. The winning Warriors, who improved to 18-10 meet 24-3 Breese Central at 7 p.m. Thursday for the regional championship. The top-seeded Cougars routed host Carlyle, 81-37, in the first semifinal.
“I think we were a little anxious and nervous, and their (Warriors’) defense was pretty good,” Roxana’s top gun Maddy Sheraka said. “It always felt like they had somebody hanging on you.”
The senior scored a team-best 18 points and finished her career with 1,341 points, tops in school history. Yet the third-seeded Shells started sluggishly, making only 1 of 13 shots in a three-point first quarter.
Roxana picked up the pace with a 32-point second half, including 18 in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t enough as second-seeded Wesclin once extended its advantage to 33 points.
“It seemed like we couldn’t get into the flow of things in the first half,” Roxana coach Tammy Talbert said. “We rushed some shots, missed some other one and it had a snowball effect. We finally started to relax in the second half.”
The Warriors never let up. They connected on 25 of 49 shots and had three players score in double figures. Zoe Christopher led the way with 18 points. Carrie Rakers contributed 17 points and Carly Haukapp netted 12 points. Wesclin made 11 of 21 field-goal attempts the first half and 14 of 28 over the final two quarters.
Nevertheless, it was the Warriors’ sticky defense that made coach Ben Crawford bouncy. Roxana connected on just 13 of 46 shots.
“We have been playing well defensively down the stretch of the season and holding them to seven points the first half made a difference,” he said. “I thought Zoe Christopher really did a good job on Sheraka.”
Christopher limited Sheraka to one 3-pointer the first half. Sheraka added five points in the third quarter and logged 10 more in the Shells’ 18-point fourth quarter. Erica Sheets (six points), Hannah Rexford (five points) and Sara Kreutztrager (five points) complemented Sheraka’s scoring.
“We told the players at halftime to keep attacking the basket and they did that in the second half,” Talbert said.
Sheraka noted, “We played better the second half and we wanted to do that. We wanted to prove that we were better than the way we played in the first half.”
Despite the Shells’ loss, Talbert knows one game doesn’t determine a season.
“I’m very disappointed the way the season ended, but I’m pretty happy with the season overall,” she said. “We won 16 games and that’s something that hasn’t happened in a long time. There were a lot of positive things this season.”
They experienced only their second winning season since 2003-04. The 2012-13 squad finished 14-13. The last time Roxana won more than 16 games was in 2002-2003, when they closed at 18-9.
“I’ll never forget this season,” Sheraka said.
CLASS 2A CARLYLE REGIONAL
TRENTON WESCLIN 66, ROXANA 39
Roxana 3 4 14 18 – 39
Wesclin 14 15 18 19 – 66
Roxana (16-12) – Maddy Sheraka 18, Erica Sheets 6, Elizabeth Rexford 3, Sara Kreutztrager 5, Hannah Rexford 5, Abby Palen 2. 2FG-8 3FG-5 FT-8 PF-8
Wesclin (18-10) – Zoe Christopher 18, Carly Haukapp 12, Carrie Rakers 17, MacKenzie Kellogg 9, Mayghen Mugele 4, Cami Meddows 3, Ellie Wessel 3. 2FG-17 3FG-8 FT-8 PF-16