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Jun 01st
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St. Benedict's Prep basketball looks to earn state title with new talent

stbenedictslogo020612_optBY CONNOR McCANN

The Heat has James, Wade, and Bosh. The Celtics have Pierce, Allen, and Garnett. Now, St. Benedict’s Prep has Ennis, Johnson, and Briscoe.

OK, so if you don’t follow high school basketball, you may not have heard of the last three but you soon will. St. Benedict’s Prep Basketball’s own big three of Tyler Ennis, Melvin Johnson, and Isaiah Briscoe have led the Gray Bees back into the national spotlight and a shot at the national title.

Their first-year head coach Mark Taylor calls them “The best three-guard combo in the country."

The unlikely combination of a senior, junior, and a freshman is even more astonishing considering that before this season, the trio had never stepped on the floor of a basketball court together.

“They play so well together, they have the ability to score the ball at any time,” says Taylor, who also is new to St. Benedict’s after being hired in April to become their second head coach in as many seasons after Roshown McLeod’s surprising departure after last season.

They surely don’t miss McLeod though, who only posted a record of 13-12 in his only season in Newark. This year, the Gray Bees are 21-1 and ranked 6th in the country by USA Today, with their only loss coming at the hands of the number one team in New Jersey, St. Anthony’s.

Ennis, a junior, is fielding offers from Syracuse, Arizona, Kansas, Louisville, as well as a number of many other national powers. Coach Mark Taylor says that Ennis is “keeping his options open” and “trying to find the best situation academically and for playing right away.”

The two other stars are senior Melvin Johnson who is bound for Miami in the fall and freshman sensation Isaiah Briscoe. Briscoe is regarded as one of the best players in the class of 2015 and was offered by a number of colleges before he even played a high school game. While the season has been focused on those three players Taylor says, “There are other very good players as well.” Such as Kamal Richards, Isaiah Watkins, Denzell Taylor and Kevin Mickle, who are all Division 1 players in their own right.

Before coming to St. Benedict’s, Taylor coached at Ridge and also coached Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum at St. Joseph’s. He says the transition to a perennial powerhouse like St. Benedict’s has been a rather smooth one.

“It’s been exciting. Everybody questioned how we were going to be (but) we have great kids who are good citizens," said Taylor.

This year, the Gray Bees have a chance at returning to glory and winning the state prep title. This team will be definitely fun to watch as they make their run at a championship.


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