WORCESTER — At 6-foot-2, Britt Herring was usually the tallest player on the floor during her standout high school career at Quaboag Regional.
"I didn't really have that much of a challenge," she said.
It was a different story when she began her college career at Worcester State two years ago.
"Coming into college was an awakening for sure," Herring said. "I had to learn a lot."
Herring started right away, put up double figures in points and rebounds in three of her first six games, and proved that the Lancers would have a gifted presence in the post for years to come.
Herring was the 2015-16 MASCAC Rookie of the Year and last season earned All-MASCAC first-team honors after leading the Lancers in scoring (12.2 ppg) and rebounds (7.8 rpg).
"She has really worked hard to grow her game," Worcester State coach Karen Tessmer said. "In high school, she was tall, left-handed and she could just shoot over kids. She had to develop running the floor, post moves, going to her left and her right. She has great hands around the hoop — she can pretty much catch anything that comes her way. She's a high percentage shooter in the paint and this year she has really developed a move to the right side, so it makes her more diverse and harder to guard.
"Her junior year is a big year for her," Tessmer said. "We're counting on her to have a good year."
The Lancers finished 12-14 last season, but came on strong late in the year with a five-game winning streak and went 8-4 in conference games.
"All of a sudden it just clicked," Herring said. "We just found it. It all came together all at once."
Herring scored in double figures in WSU's last 11 games and had five double-doubles in that stretch.
Last year, Herring played alongside 6-foot-1 Bianca Langford, the former Holy Name High star.
The Lancers have less depth in the post this season, so Herring expects more attention from opponents.
"It's going to be a challenge," Herring said, "so I'm trying to expand my game."
Tessmer said Herring is working on her jump shot from the baseline. The extra focus on Herring inside will open things up for the Lancers' 3-point shooters. Tessmer said the team has added some good long-range shooters, including former Nashoba Regional star Sam Maglione.
Herring, a 2015 Hometeam Super Team selection, was a 1,000-point scorer at Quaboag and led the Cougars to back-to-back Western Mass. championships. Quaboag girls' basketball had a dynastic Central Mass. run in the early 2000s before being realigned to Western Mass. a few years ago.
"I just think that with our towns, kids start at a young age," Herring, who grew up in West Brookfield, said of the high school program's success. "A lot of kids go on to play in college."
Herring is the latest former Quaboag star to play for Tessmer at Worcester State.
Meaghan O'Keefe, who is a part-time Lancers assistant, and Meagan Burns are both in the WSU record books.
"We've always recruited their players," Tessmer said. "They have good high school coaches, so they have always come prepared. We have had this pipeline with them and we've been fortunate. For a small school, they are very good at girls' basketball."
Herring also does well off the court. As a communications science and disorders major, she is a MASCAC All-Academic selection. She works at the university's Wellness Center.
"She's a great student and a great representative for Worcester State," Tessmer said, "and she is having a great basketball career."
The Lancers return four starters. In addition to Herring, junior forward Kaitlyn Berkel also earned All-MASCAC first-team honors last season.
"I think everyone came back stronger," Herring said. "It's exciting."
Guard Brianna Hackett is the team's only senior.
"We have a great mix of kids," said Tessmer, who begins her 24th season. "We have better shooters. Our strength is our junior class."