Isi Enahoro is a living legend in the Sayreville War Memorial High School girls’ basketball program.
Two winters ago, Enahoro led the Bombers to a 29-3 record and the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 sectional tournament championship. Sayreville beat South Brunswick High School, 44-37, in the state sectional title game.
Enahoro graduated after the season, but she didn’t stay away from the program for long. This winter, she returned as a volunteer assistant coach to Sayreville head coach Janet Cook.
“I wanted to share my experience with the younger girls and help them develop,” Enahoro said.
Most of Sayreville’s current players were in the program two years ago. They practiced against those Bombers and watched their games from the bench.
With Enahoro back, they were also reminded of them every day.
“Isi reminds these girls of what it takes,” Cook said.
The 2019 Bombers were not quite ready to win a championship, like the 2017 Bombers. But they still grew into a contender and made Enahoro proud.
“As time went on, I saw them grow as players and work together,” Enahoro said. “It was beautiful to watch.”
Sayreville went 17-10 and reached the Central Jersey, Group 4 state sectional quarterfinals, losing to Middletown High School South, 65-47.
Cook thought the Bombers really came together during their 61-47 first-round state victory over Howell High School. Most of Cook’s rotation players had strong games on Feb. 25 at home.
Senior Lyssandra Delacosta led the team with 14 points. Fellow senior Serina Townes recorded a double double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Junior Jackie Ventricelli posted 12 points and three steals. Fellow junior Janeva Holland gobbled up 13 boards.
But it was a sophomore, Stephanie Van Note, who executed the most encouraging performance. Handling the ball more than usual, Van Note put up 14 points and three assists.
The sophomore played like a true creator. With Delacosta gone, Van Note will have to step into that role next year.
Cook is getting back four of her six rotation players next winter, including Ventricelli, Sayreville’s leading scorer, and the Holland sisters, Janeva and Brooke, who control the boards.
But Van Note will spearhead Sayreville’s attack.
“Steph just has to get comfortable handling,” Cook said.
The coach first envisioned Van Note as a creator when she watched her play at Sayreville Middle School. Van Note ran point for the middle school team, and thrived in the role. Her height and dribbling ability made her hard to defend.
When Van Note got to Sayreville, though, there were more experienced creators in front of her. But Cook still kept the idea in the back of her mind.
Now, two years into high school, Van Note is 5-9. She has also handled the ball in the flow of Sayreville’s offense, including in the Howell game.
She is ready.
“Steph is good at driving to the basket and is willing to take on that role,” Cook said.
“If I keep working, I’ll be a good ball handler,” Van Note said. “As a point guard with height, there are different things you can do.”
The roles around Van Note are already defined. Ventricelli is the scorer on offense and the ball hawk on defense. The Holland sisters are scoring and rebounding presences in the post.
If Van Note grows into her new role, the Bombers can get even better. They may even be able to join Enahoro and her teammates on the gymnasium wall at the school.
“It will come down to us improving our shooting and strength this summer,” Cook said. “If we do those two things, we can compete with anybody.”