Whenever Granite Baptist basketball coach Rick Scarfi talks about his players, he starts Baab-ling.
Senior forward Jason Baab.
Junior forward Shad Baab.
Freshman guard Ben Baab.
"It's nice to coach when you get brothers who are all good and all competitive," says Scarfi, also the athletic director.
The brothers have already left a lasting impression at the Glen Burnie Christian school asthree-sport standouts and honor roll students.
Playing inside a newly constructed gymnasium, the Baabs have helped the basketball teamto a 7-2 record, better than expected after graduation and transferstook its toll on the thin roster.
Entering Thursday night's game against Victory Christian, starting forwards Shad and Jason, both 6-foot-1, ranked as the team's leading scorers, averaging 20.1 and 11.8 points per game, respectively. Shad also was tops in assists (3.9) and blocks (2.9), while Jason led all rebounders (13.1).
"I'm scaredto look ahead because these guys are so good and I'm just coming up," says Ben, 14. "I don't want anyone to think I have to be as good asthem. I'm only as good as I can be."
He showed how good he can beThursday, playing his best game of the season in a 75-28 win over the Eagles.
A 5-foot-9 reserve guard averaging less than two points a game, Ben erupted for 14 points and added eight rebounds, four steals, two assists and one block, as Scarfi went to his bench early and often against an overmatched opponent.
Jason also had 14 points, along with 13 rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal. Shad had eight points, five rebounds, four steals, two blocks and one assist.
"We all possess things the other one doesn't have," says Shad, 16, who does share the same thin physique as his brothers. "Ben can probably out-dribble us, and I can probably out-shoot them, and Jason can probably out-rebound us."
In the fall, Shad and Ben played opposite wings, while Jason, 18, manned the nets for the Braves' soccer team. Shad tallied 16 goals and a school-record 16 assists -- one year after setting the mark for scoring. Ben contributed nine goals and six assists, while Jason recorded seven shutouts and only allowed onegoal per game.
"All of them are exceptional athletes," says Jack Wilson, who guides the soccer team. "It's a real pleasure to coach them."
The trio will switch to softball in a couple months -- Granite Baptist doesn't offer baseball -- and Shad says they also hope to join a spring soccer league.
The one person certain to watch every game is their mother, Rona, who used to make sure her boys remained on the same recreational teams.
"We prefer it that way," Jason says.
They joke about how many miles their mother has added to the family's van, traveling to Virginia and Pennsylvania for soccer tournaments. She quit a part-time job to spend more time on the sidelines, and frequently rides the team bus to road games.
"They're not just building the bond of a team, they're building the bond of a family," she said Thursday, while watching daughter Caree, 13, play for GraniteBaptist's girls basketball squad. "We pray together, but we also play together."
Though Rona says, "There's a camaraderie between them; they're best friends," the brothers say their relationship doesn't alienate the other Braves.
"We might look out for each other during practice, but not in a game," Shad says.
Besides, in a school with an enrollment of 210 students, pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, "Your teammates here are like brothers to you," Jason says. "We've knowneach other since K-3. We've grown up together."
Jason, who carries a 3.9 grade-point average, will be leaving for Bob Jones Universityin Greenville, S.C., a non-denominational Christian school of about 8,000 students. But he probably won't be separated from his brothers for very long.
"I don't know where they're planing to go to college, but I would think Shad (3.75 GPA) would go there. And Ben, too. I'm hoping they'll all come down," he says.
They'll leave behind a bevy of admirers at Granite Baptist.
"I'm going to miss them when they go," Wilson says.
Not to worry. In the wings is another brother, fifth-grader Seth Baab, 10.
"I think he's going to be the best one yet," Scarfi says.