There could be a shift of standout teams in Washington County from the public sector onto the private sce
ne this season.
With the 2011-12 Herald-Mail Player of the Year Obi Enechionyia back in the fold, Saint James could potentially produce one of better records in recent seasons.
Enechionyia led county players with a 17.5 scoring average, had 12 rebounds and 6 blocks per game as the Saints went 17-10.
“(Obi) is one of the best in Maryland,” said coach Paul Easton of his 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward/center. “He’s going to step up even more this year and take on more of a role offensively.”
On the other side of the county is Martin Geben, a 6-foot-9 junior from St. Maria Goretti. After he posted a 12.9 point average with 8.3 rebounds last year, Geben grew two inches and added 50 pounds of muscle and strength as he starts the season at 242 pounds.
“Inside-outside, (Geben) will be our go-to guy,” said coach Amrit Rayfield.
Both teams have experience and depth, and the early-season showdown at Saint James on Dec. 12 will definitely be a marquee affair.
Like it doesn’t need reminded, Boonsboro has won only 19 basketball games in the past five years, including 5-18 last season.
“All you can ask is that you get better than the year before and I think we can surpass last year,” said coach Skip Chambers. “This is a fun group of kids working their tails off. We’ll rely a lot on defense, hope to keep teams under 50 points.”
Senior Scott Bennett, a 6-1 forward/two-guard, is the top returnee with experience. Senior Justin Jardeleza, a 5-8 guard, skipped playing basketball last year to recover from football injuries, but is back on the hardwood to give the Warriors added depth.
Senior Chad Cowden, at 6-2, will work the middle. Casey Strunk, a 6-1 senior and 5-8 senior Ryan Walsh are ticketed for duty, along with 5-7 sophomore guard Nathaniel Saunders and 6-4 junior Dylan Coulter.
“Cowden has worked his tail off and is a great kid,” Chambers said. “Strunk is a hard-nosed kid that would run through a wall. We’ve got 10 kids to interchange.”
The Lions have had four straight 20-win seasons and, with the roster filled with experience, it’s a good chance Broadfording can make it five straight.
In the middle swatting away shots again will be Mowdo Sallah, the 6-7, 195-pound senior and Herald-Mail second-teamer. He averaged 15.7 points, a county-leading 14.6 rebounds and 5.8 blocks.
What can he do for an encore?
“He’s got the experience to lead us,” said coach Burnie Clutz.
The cast is supportive with 5-11 senior guard Cisco Silva, who plays all over the floor, and a third-year starter in 6-0 junior Moni Anderson, who averaged 13.9 points.
Clutz also has 6-5 senior Ben Cradduck back in the fold and will welcome transfers Chris Puffenbarger, a 6-3 center from Greencastle, Pa., and 5-7 senior guard Jeff Lopez.
“I think we should be right there in the MDCC, probably with New Life,” Clutz said. “We’ll try to get out offensively and move the ball.”
Ryan Grabill begins his third year with the Blazers, coming off a 13-11 campaign with Nick Hill leading the way.
Hill and his 16.3 points per game are gone along with Sam Elwood, so Grabill must lean on 5-10 senior guard Ryan Aaron for leadership, scoring and defense.
“(Aaron) has to be a leader for us,” Grabill said. “We’re thin on the depth chart. Every little thing, every rebound, will have to be important.”
Seniors David Moser and C.J. Elwood saw limited playing time a year ago, but much the opposite is planned for them now.
In addition, Grabill won’t have Jared Brandt playing until after Christmas following an appendectomy, and Riley Lazich, who played with the varsity late last year, will be out of action this year due to health concerns.
“We’re like the Maryland quarterback situation was ... all beat up,” Grabill said. “Once we get healthy, we need to stay injury-free.”
First-year coach Rick Golliday has one simple goal in mind for the season: Triple the wins from last season when the Knights went 4-24. Or at least double it.
Grace will have three returning players — 6-4 senior Anthony Jacques, 6-foot junior Cole Helman and 6-4 sophomore Jake Buwalda — who will start after coming off the bench last season. Juan Hernandez, a 6-2 junior, and 5-6 sophomore guard Hakeem Long could be the other two starters.
Golliday said 6-foot sophomore Edward Booth and 5-8 sophomore Matt Cole, a transfer from Carroll Christian, will step in.
“We need to be patient on offense, make the necessary adjustments against the defenses,” said Golliday. “We’re looking to have a positive outlook and grow.”