Some players never have the opportunity to play on a conference championship team during their high school careers. That's why it's remarkable that Brookfield Central senior forward Valerierose Agnello had the chance to play a key role on three of them.
Central was 22-2 in her first season on the varsity, going unbeaten in Greater Metro Conference play (14-0). Her junior year the Lancers were 18-7 with a 13-1 conference record, sharing the title with Divine Savior Holy Angels. This past season, Central was 13-1 and 17-7 overall.
The total numbers are amazing - 40-2 (.952 winning percentage) in conference play and 57-16 (.781) in all the games over the three year period.
"It was fun, coming onto the team as a sophomore and coming off the bench as the sixth man," Agnello recalled about her sophomore year. "The next year it was almost expected (to win), but we only returned one senior (Joana Bielefeld), so we needed to step it up. But then this year, after being successful, we were picked so low (fourth). We wanted to keep it rolling. We wanted more."
Being the only returning starter, Agnello was ready for her leadership role this season.
"I like that. I was ready for it," she said. "I was a vocal leader as a junior. I like that my teammates are looking up at me, so I always tried to work hard so they could grasp on how you work has something to do with how successful you are.
There was a little pressure, but one person can't make or break this team. I knew I had to do as much as I could to help bring things together. These girls were are good and I tried to bring that out in them."
Agnello was an excellent across the board player, leading the team or finishing second in every category, as well as being an excellent defender. As a result, she was the only Brookfield player to make the NOW Newspapers 2010-11 All-Suburban Girls Basketball First-Team.
She was first-team all-GMC this year and was the Lancers MVP, topping the team in offensive rebounds per game (3.3), total rebounds per game (8.6), steals per game (2.2) and blocks per game (1.5). She had 52 steals, which doubles the next closest total.
She was second in scoring (10.8), defensive rebounds per game (5.3) and assists per game (1.9) and shot 43% (84-197) from the field. She also received the GMC Scholar-Athlete honor.
She scored double figures 11 times, with highs of 27 versus Milwaukee King and 19 versus West Allis Central in double overtime regional title game. In the King game Central set a record with 26 points in the fourth quarter and she had 13 of them. Against the regional championship win over the Bulldogs, she scored 13 of her points in the fourth period and two overtimes. Defensively, she usually took the opponents' top scoring big man.
"She had a big part of it (three championships), even when she wasn't starting," Central coach Dan Wandrey said. "She was almost always on the court at the end of the games. She has been such an important part of those teams."
Agnello talked about what it was like to play for the emotional Wandrey for three seasons.
"I am really used to him," she said. "When he yells on the court, he means well. After a while you know what he is going to say and what you did wrong. Knowing how he is, I can help the other girls. He knows how to get our team to be successful."
Agnello, who will attend Kishwaukee Junior College in DeKalb (Ill.), will play a two or three guard at the next level. She will play AAU ball with Playground Elite this summer, along with Katy Allen of Washington and Tierra Bender of Milwaukee Pius XI.
So what made Agnello so special to Wandrey?
"She's got an edge to her," he said. "Last year's team needed that intensity and she got it to rub to off on her teammates. This year she had a chip on her shoulder and she had a more captive audience being the only returning starter."
The Lancers Anna Liewen, a 5-9 junior forward, was named High Honorable Mention on the NOW Newspapers 2010-11 Girls All-Suburban Team. She was also a first-team all-conference selection and led Central in points (12.2 average) and was first in defensive rebounds (5.4), while finishing second in offensive rebounds (3.0) and total rebounds (8.4).
Brookfield East senior Laura Burbach, a 6-3 senior forward, earned honorable mention honors on the NOW Newspapers All-Suburban Team. She was a second-team all-conference selection, a scholar-athlete and the Spartans' MVP.
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