Wayne Turner is back after a one-year absence and Seneca Valley basketball Coach Gene Doane couldn't be happier. The Screaming Eagles are off to a 7-2 start and rank as one the top contenders for the Montgomery County AA League title.

Two years ago, things weren't going so smoothly for Turner or the Eagles.

"He'd been mainstreamed from Mark Twain into Seneca Valley and there were some discipline problems," explained Doane, who has coached at Sherwood, Blair and Seneca since 1959. "Wayne started for us as a sophomore, but when I put in a substitute for him one game he got mad, got dressed and left before the game was over. And I kicked him off the team for that.

"Last year I told him he could play, but only on the junior varsity, even though he was the best player we had," said Doane, whose team ended with a 10-12 record last season.

"We sure could have used Wayne, but it was more important to teach him about being responsible for his actions. He was an All-Met punter, but he agreed and played JV. It was a big test for him, but he took the demotion and made the best of it."

This year, however, Turner is back and leading the balanced scoring attack that Seneca missed last year. Last week, in a 61-58 victory over archrival Gaithersburg, Turner and teammates Adrian Bassey, Troy Gray and Randy Barnes each scored 14 points -- all but five of the team's total.

The Eagles have no height advantage, however, with Barnes, a 6-foot-5 center and Bassey, a 6-3 forward. They rely instead on savvy and a tenacious defense that stops transition-minded opponents in their tracks.

"I'm glad that this team is doing well this season, but I'm really happy for Wayne," said Doane. "He's not perfect yet, but he's getting there. It was tough on him and it was tough on me, what happened last year. Things in life aren't always easy. It's really nice to see someone like Wayne turn things around."

The Metropolitan Baseball Umpires Association began workshops for prospective new umpires yesterday. The MBUA officiates high school and youth baseball games in suburban Maryland, Virginia and the District. For more information, call Charles Hudson at (301) 736-6946 or Joe Fontana at (703) 573-4296.

Bullis remains the No. 1 scholastic wrestling team in the state, according to rankings compiled by Maryland wrestling coaches. Mount St. Joseph's of Baltimore is ranked second, followed by Wicomico, Arundel, McDonough, Eastern Vo-Tech (Baltimore), DeMatha, Westminster and Oakland Mills.

Top local individual performers are: Bullis' Scott Alban, No. 2 at 98 pounds; Laurel's Gunnar Burling, No. 1 at 105 lbs.; Broadneck's David Poe, No. 1 at 112 lbs.; DeMatha's Karl Tamai, No. 1 at 119 lbs.; Arundel's Stuart Kier, No. 2 at 126 lbs.; Bullis' Brian Burkett, No. 3 at 132 lbs.; Bowie's Aaron Thomas, No. 6 at 138 lbs.; Seneca Valley's Ron Hykas, No. 6 at 145 lbs.; Arundel's Sean Huyer, No. 2 at 155 lbs.; Glen Burnie's Marty Lewis, No. 2 at 167 lbs.; McDonough's Matt Koski, No. 6 at 185 lbs., and McNamara's Joe Hall, No. 2 at heavyweight.

The Knights of Columbus will hold a free-throw shooting competition on Jan. 25 from 1-3 p.m. at the Longwood Community Center in Olney. Boys and girls aged 11 to 14 are eligible to participate.