The Egg Harbor Township boys' basketball team has been like a puzzle with pieces scattered all over a hardwood floor the last couple of seasons.
However, the parts now have been snapped into place, and a new centerpiece puts them together to form an action picture of a true contender in the Cape-Atlantic League American Division 1.
The once chemistry-challenged Eagles, whose record was 6-18 last season and 9-16 the season before, began to click at the end of last season. Then, in July, the big piece, Anthony Taylor, transferred to the Atlantic County school to round out the starting five.
Taylor, a 6-foot-2, 165-pound point guard, came to EHT from Living Faith Christian Academy, which closed. An Egg Harbor resident since eighth grade, Taylor brought some nice goodies from the school he attended for two years: 23.4 points and 6.8 assists per game.
The 18-year-old Division 1-bound guard, who played for Holy Spirit his freshman year, also brought 970 career points.
EHT's four returning starters - senior forwards Dan Allen and Tejay Johnson, senior guard Winston Rolls, and sophomore guard Justin Williams - reportedly have taken to the big piece like glue.
Two other parts make the picture complete: sophomore Richard Dukes, a 6-3 guard, and junior Kevin Marquez, a 6-2 guard.
"We went through some growing pains," said EHT coach George McNally, now in his 16th year at the helm. "Then they grasped the game and did nice things at the end of last year.
"Anthony Taylor has played against some of the best competition. He has experience and skill that we haven't had since .
"We will open the floor more with him. He is a true point guard and takes the worry off others."
Taylor and Rolls, a 6-foot guard who averaged 7.9 points and three assists per game last season, or Taylor and Johnson, a 6-3 swingman who averaged 7.8 points and 6.1 rebounds a game, form the best backcourt in the entire American Division, according to McNally.
"I believe we have chemistry," said Taylor, who played in summer and fall leagues with his EHT teammates. "The main goal is to have defenses focus on me so it's easier for other guys to get off shots.
"I might drive and score or shoot threes. My role is to be the main factor, a leader who gets teammates involved."
Taylor on Oct. 11 made a commitment to play basketball for Longwood University in Farmville, Va., after turning away from Boston University, Bucknell and Brown, he said.
"It's an upcoming program and I can build it to make Longwood a household name," said Taylor, an aspiring engineer. "I'll be able to play freshman year and make a big impact on the team."
EHT is looking for an engineer to build up the team after last season, when the Eagles finished last in the five-team American Division 1, won by Atlantic City.
The Vikings return with the best frontcourt in the American with 6-4 senior swingman Muji McBride and 6-6 senior center Jamil Stewart.
They will be a formidable team in a division in which EHT will be a strong contender.