Mount Hebron was a player away from having another strong season last year. The Vikings lost seven games by six or fewer points and finished 9-13 overall and 3-11 in the league.
That represented quite a drop from the season before when they went 17-7 and 11-3.
"We had some distractions last season that took a toll on us," coach Scott Robinson said. "This year, we have a great group that's enthusiastic and plays hard and I think we can be competitive."
He may even have picked up that one strong inside-type that he needed to go over the top last year.
Patrick Ngongba, a 6-6 sophomore exchange student from the Central African Republic, arrived at Mount Hebron last Wednesday after months of delay caused by striking government workers.
"He hasn't practiced with us so I'm not sure how good he is," Robinson said. "But I saw him shoot around a little and he looks like he's played the game some."
Mount Hebron's top returning players are a pair of bookends, 6-1 junior guard Kurtis Jestes and 6-1 senior guard Mark Jensen.
Both can shoot. Jestes averaged 12.8 points last season and sank 53 three-point shots. Jensen averaged seven points and sank 47 three-pointers.
Jestes, the only full-time returning starter, has improved his ball-handling skills dramatically since last season. Jensen also can handle the ball and passes well.
The Vikings have three other returning players. Steve Dohler, a 6-2 senior forward, has some good post moves.
Royal Antoine, a 6-3 senior forward, is the team's best leaper.
Todd Petrlik, a 6-1 junior forward, is the team's most fundamentally sound player.
Newcomers include Kevin Tonkins, a 6-2 junior forward who is the team's most athletic player.
Another newcomer is 6-0 junior forward Brad Black who is the team's most aggressive player.
Russell Drake, a 5-10 sophomore point guard pleasantly has surprised Robinson with his ball-handling skills.
Damon DiGiorgio, a 6-1 junior forward has some good post moves.
Pete Murzda, a 5-5 junior point guard, provides depth at that position.
And Eric Nordmark, a 5-7 senior guard, is an exchange student from Sweden who brings a great attitude.
The Vikings have made one scheduling change from last season by replacing Severn with Poolesville.