Eagles rewrite record book Harford Christian, Chatham on a roll

January 31, 1993|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Staff Writer

About a year ago, Jen Chatham realized a school record was within her grasp.

The Harford Christian forward needed only 204 points to break the career scoring record of 972 and just 27 more to reach the 1,000-point mark.

Going into Monday's game, Chatham was so close that the marquee outside the school announced, "Come see Jen Chatham score her 1,000th point today."

That wasn't overconfidence -- Chatham reached the mark with her first basket of the game. She made it 999 with a free throw and 1,001 on a feed from point guard Suzanne Akers.

The game stopped long enough for athletic director Harley Parkes to present the game ball to Chatham.

"I really wanted to do it on our home court," said Chatham, who missed a shot and a free throw early. "I tried to relax. [Monday], I just wanted to play. I thought when I get my points, I get my points. I think my team was more excited than I was."

A week earlier, Chatham broke the 972 mark held by her coach, Barb (Brooks) Tittel, a 1982 graduate.

"I was glad to see her break it," said Tittel. "It's been 11 years now. She's a really good player and I coach her, so I get to take a little of the credit."

Still, Chatham's record is just a small part of a season filled with firsts for the Eagles, two-time defending champions of the Maryland Association of Christian Schools Athletic Conference. After Friday's 52-16 romp over York Country Day, the Eagles were riding a 18-game winning streak, the best start and the longest streak in the 26-year history of the Darlington school.

Another record has fallen, too. Center Laura Thomas holds the mark for career rebounds with 872, breaking Kim Spare's 1986 record of 767. Thomas, 6 feet, narrowly missed Spare's single-game rebound record of 31, grabbing 28 in a 93-23 romp over Carroll Christian on Jan. 22.

If she boosts her 13.5 rebound average just a bit, Thomas could reach 1,000 by the end of the season. If not, Thomas can wait until next year, because she is a junior.

Despite their impressive stats, Chatham and Thomas are just part of what seems to be a perfectly balanced Eagles squad.

Neither Chatham nor Thomas is the team's leading scorer. Senior guard Jen Kreisel averages 16 points -- most on transition.

Chatham, a four-year starter and two-time team MVP, averages 15 while Thomas chips in 14. Senior guard Andi Williams is the defensive specialist and Akers, a sophomore, stepped in easily to run the offense.

A bench full of sophomores, Jettie Moir, Becki Geisendaffer, Amy Watkins, Jenn Loewenstein and Heather Spencer, also gets plenty of playing time and shows great promise for the future.

Tittel, who has compiled a 47-14 record over three years, stresses defense. With great overall quickness, the Eagles are tough on opponents in their man-to-man defense.

"Most teams we play can't handle the man-to-man," said Tittel, whose team averages about 15 steals per game. "They turn the ball over a lot against it and when they have outside shooters, it really throws them off."

The Eagles give Tittel a lot of the credit for their success.

"She tries to develop us as a team," said Kreisel, who also started on the boys soccer team for three years. "She's found our different talents and abilities and she works on them. Like on the fast breaks, she knows I'm fast, so she puts me out on the fast break."

That defense has helped roll up some big scores. The Eagles' average margin of victory is 32 points, with their closest game a 43-38 win over Lancaster Christian School.

"I wish we had tougher competition now," said Chatham, adding that Riverdale Baptist, a team the Eagles have beaten two straight years in the MACSAC tournament, is much tougher than any team the Eagles have played so far.

However, the competition is expected to get a little tougher especially Friday at Lancaster Country Day School, a team the Eagles split with last season.

If the Eagles are challenged by Lancaster Country Day, it will help them as they get closer to postseason play. The MACSAC tournament concludes on Feb. 27, and after that, the Eagles hope to head to the National Association of Christian Schools regional tournament in Atlantic City.

Although they finished fourth in the national tournament in Tennessee last year, the Eagles never have won the regional. Two years ago, they finished second, falling in overtime. Last year, they got a bye into the national tournament.

This year, the best the Eagles can do is win the regional, because the national tournament has been discontinued. But winning the regional is a big enough goal for the Eagles.

"It is disappointing that there're no nationals this year," said Thomas. "But we want to have a winning season and just do real well at regionals for our school."

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