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Article Published March 12, 2020

Ensinger Does it All on the Court

By Chris Negrini/

Cade Ensinger always makes a positive contribution on the basketball court. Whether through his offense or defense, Cade has guided the Valley Regional boys’ basketball team to its fair share of victories in recent seasons. A senior captain point guard, Cade plays a major role for the Warriors, having helped them achieve a record of 17-5 thus far this year. Valley enters in the Division V State Tournament this week with a legitimate shot to win it all.

Cade’s fellow players in the Shoreline Conference are familiar with his abilities, and that was evident when Cade earned All-Conference First Team honors for his performance this season. Cade appreciated receiving that distinction, although he has even greater aspirations for the Warriors.

“It felt good to get that recognition,” says Cade. “I’m glad I got recognized for the hard work I put in, but I still feel like there’s a lot more to be done.”

As Valley’s point guard, Cade’s job is to set up Valley’s attack on the offensive end of the floor. On the other side of ball, Cade focuses on disrupting his opponent’s offensive schemes.

“I just want to have a positive effect on the game in any way possible,” Cade says. “Our team really emphasizes defense. I do whatever I can on the defensive end to win a game, as well as on the offensive end.”

Cade has stepped up his offensive game throughout the course of his career. At first, Cade was mainly making shots around the basket, but he’s expanded both his range and his repertoire during the past few years. Cade is averaging 13 points and 7.5 assists per game this winter.

“I used to only be able to drive to the rim, but I’ve worked on my game to pull up, shoot, and drive,” says Cade. “I penetrate a lot and dish out to the teammates to the open man. Everyone pretty much collapses when I drive.”

On the defensive end, Cade is often tasked with stopping some of the Shoreline Conference’s top offensive threats. When Cade bares down on an opponent, he makes it difficult for that player to get the offense started, and that can lead to a fast break for Valley. Cade is averaging five steals and five rebounds per contest on the campaign.

“I feel like I can guard anyone that I need to. Unless there’s someone really tall, I pretty much play the best player on the other team,” Cade says. “We’re also a deep team. We have other players on the team that can come in and play some defense if I need a break.”

As the initiator of the offense, Cade has always held a leadership role. Now, this year, he has the title of senior captain to emphasize that fact. Cade hasn’t really changed his approach since becoming a captain. He says that Valley’s athletes don’t need much guidance to stay on the right track.

“As a team, we don’t really worry that much about captains. As a point guard, I’m kind of leading the team that way,” says Cade. “I try to lead with how hard I play. I don’t talk that much, but I do when I need to. I just play hard. Everyone leads in their own way.”

Head Coach Kevin Woods has worked with some great players at Valley Regional, and he believes that Cade can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of them. As the Warriors gear up for states, Woods knows that Cade will play a pivotal role in just how far they can go.

“Cade is up there with the great ones. He’s a top-five player of all time at Valley. He’s a special player. It goes under the radar, because he doesn’t average 18 to 20 points a game,” Woods says. “Cade impacts all aspects of the game better than any other player in the league. For my money, Cade is the player of the year. I think what he brings to the team will be really, really important in the State Tournament. He changes what everyone does offensively.”

Cade remembers watching the successful Valley squads of yesteryear and then deciding with his friends that they were going to try to do the same when they got to high school. Cade and his colleagues have that opportunity this winter, and they aren’t taking it lightly.

“When we were little, the Valley team was very good. They were always in the tournament and championship games. The travel team always talked about making it to Mohegan Sun. We know that we just have to do it and work hard the next two weeks,” Cade says. “We are working as hard as we can on the little things, like guarding ball screens. That’s what killed us against Morgan [in the Shoreline Conference semifinals]. We have to keep working on the things that we know how to do and do them better.”

After losing to Morgan in the Shoreline semis, the Warriors have been preparing for the State Tournament in earnest. Cade feels excited to get the chase for state gold underway.

“In the game we lost, we definitely did not have our best. We know that we’re a lot better than that. We are all eager to show the improvements that we’ve made since that game,” says Cade. “We all know that is our last chance, and we’re going to do everything that we can to get to Mohegan Sun.”