SC GBB Eno Inyang

Sophomore center Eno Inyang led the St. Cloud Bulldogs in scoring and rebounding last season despite averaging just 20 minutes per game,

All-County Girls Basketball

Player of the Year: Eno Inyang (SCHS, Sophomore)

All-county team: Gateway: Anissa Tuitt, Gyomara Ramos; Osceola: Angel Roman; St. Cloud: Beka Benge, Jaden Langer, Angie Rodriguez; Poinciana: Jillian Jones; City of Life: Omega Payton, Debra Buggs, Reyna Buggs.

Run into Eno Inyang in the halls of St. Cloud High School, and a couple of words come to mind to describe her: pleasant, joyful and big-hearted.

Get her in the Bulldogs’ gym and put her 6-1 frame in a basketball uniform and other words come to mind: dominant, powerful and focused.

Then when the whistle or horn sounds to end the practice or game, Gentle Eno returns.

Inyang the center — who just completed her sophomore season, so she’ll get to impose more will on county and district foes for two more years — was the best player around last season, the Osceola News-Gazette Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

She averaged 17.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and nearly two blocks per game, while barely averaging 20 minutes played. Talking about the year, when she helped the Bulldogs go 28-3, win district and regional titles and make the program’s first trip to the state tournament in Lakeland, she’s back to being her happy-go-lucky self.

“My goals are all about helping the team do well, and I improved my game this year to create more offense,” said Inyang, who earned the Bulldogs’ starting varsity center job early in her freshman year, averaged double figures in scoring and gave a glimpse of what’s to come.

It’s hard to say if Inyang’s presence inside was the key to St. Cloud’s success this year, or if it was the outside shooting of its legion of guards who combined to make 8.5 three-point shots per game — because it all worked so well together.

“All of us collectively formed a really good, really close group,” Inyang said. “We play together with such chemistry. When you play at St. Cloud, you develop that chip on your shoulder that people just don’t understand. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Inyang, who also earned an All-County bid to the volleyball team and was the shot put champion at the Orange Belt Conference track meet earlier this month, said she hopes to add a little more defensive energy to her game and be able to overcome what the Bulldogs faced in a 67-46 Class 7A state semifinal loss to St. Thomas Aquinas.

“That game changed me,” she said. “It made me more motivated and hungrier. I know I’m not alone on this team when I say I want to get back (to Lakeland) … and win it all.”

Coach Chad Ansbaugh, in youth and middle school leagues, has known or worked with Inyang since fifth grade. He doesn’t need her to say those things — he saw it himself from the RP Funding Center sidelines.

“Lakeland impacted her. Her nature is to internalize things, but that game motivated her and has her searching for answers on how to get to that next level,” he said. “She’s gotten even better since our season ended, working on her own and in her AAU competition.”

Ansbaugh called it a testament to the support system of family and teammates around her — “her big village” — that she’s able to maintain an easygoing attitude off the basketball court and the focus to keep improving on it.

“She gets a lot of pressure from people outside her team and family. They look at a 6-1 girl and go, ‘It’s got to be easy for you,’” he said. “She has a dominating build she didn’t ask for. She can be our best player without having to dominate practice.

“And what people see now isn’t even the finished product. She’s working on a three-point shot that would open doors for us as a team.”