By Matt Taylor, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Coach Erin Largess is in her sixth year as the Shrewsbury High School (SHS) girls basketball coach, and is looking to the next step of winning a Central Massachusetts championship. The Colonials start the season as the number-one team in the Worcester Telegram poll. Largess knows reaching the goal of state champions won's be easy. Last year SHS lost to league rival Algonquin Regional in the District Finals.
“Even though it was tough losing to Algonquin last year, I think the experience of getting to that point will really help our players,” Largess said. “Our goals for this season are to win 10 games to qualify for the districts, win our league, and play for the state championship. It will be very tough. Our league has a number of tough teams from top to bottom.”
SHS will have a number of advantages in addition to experience this year. With four players over six feet tall, the team will be able to alter a lot of easy shots and limit other teams to one shot on most possessions. Senior captain and reigning league MVP Jane Aulenbach is one of those six-foot players who can play any position on the court.
“Jane is a great rebounder, scorer, and a three-point threat,” Largess said.
Aulenbach converted from the center position to a guard/forward last year. As a former center, she can play the post, but her ball-handling, outside shooting, and leadership skills also make her an excellent choice at guard.
Danielle Deraney is a co-captain and a four-year veteran of the team. As one of a few players over the years to make the team as a freshman, Deraney is counted on heavily by Largess for her ability to lead and anticipate situations on the court.
“Danielle sees the court well,” Largess said. “She is an excellent leader and has tremendous quickness and strength around the basket.”
Remy Talbot is also a captain and is starting for the first time this year. She is taking over the starting shooting guard position this year, and will log significant minutes on the court. Talbot talked about what the Colonials need to achieve success in 2011-2012.
“We need to bring our A-game every night,” Talbot said. “If we use our size and speed to our advantage and execute our game plan, we should have a great season.”
Largess relies heavily on her captains to help motivate the younger players.
“I count on them to lead on and off the court,” she said. “They need to help direct the team on the floor, and I's confident they'sl do that.”
Elizabeth Grip made the team as a freshman last year and returns to play a major role at center for the Colonials. Grip is a proven scorer for a young player and has played excellent defense against the top centers in the Mid-Wachusett League.
SHS has already had wins over Shepherd Hill and league rival Westborough, to start the year 2-0.
“We want to achieve the best record possible,” Deraney said. “We look to improve with each game and hopefully win our league and the District Finals.”
Aulenbach spoke about some of the hardest opponents the team will face this year.
“All the teams in our league are tough, but we always seem to have really close games against Algonquin, Wachusett and Westborough.”
The SHS schedule has games against Burncoat Dec. 23 and St. Peter-Marian Wednesday, Dec. 28.