Chapelgate Christian on move

Hard work is producing success for IAAM Flames

High Schools

Girls basketball

January 25, 2001|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Chapelgate Christian Academy's girls basketball program is quietly making a name for itself.

"We're trying to build a strong basketball program," said third-year coach Jim Barber. "The kids work hard and seem to like it."

The Flames are 13-2 overall and 7-2 in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference.

"I don't think we're surprised [by the team's success], I think we're happy about it," said junior forward/center Christy Groves. "We're enjoying it and working really hard."

Chapelgate is a 450-student private school located on Marriottsville Road near Route 70. It has grades six through 12, and about 250 students are in its high school program.

"We don't recruit," Barber said. "We take the kids we have and work them to be the best players they can be."

Chapelgate has 12 players on its roster, including two sets of sisters - sophomore twins Laura and Jessica Holtrop and Kristen (junior) and Erica (freshman) Lynott. Emily Brundage is the only senior.

The Flames start three juniors (Christy Groves, Liz Moraz and Kristen Lynott), one sophomore (Laura Holtrop) and one freshman (Heather Landis). Jessica Holtrop and Abby Hill are usually the first players off the bench.

"This group is so unified," said Barber, who, like many of his players, lives outside Howard County. "They're extremely smart and very coachable."

Landis, a point guard who led Chapelgate's JV team to the conference title last season, is averaging a team-high 12 points and four assists this season. Laura Holtrop is the second guard and averages 10 points. Kristen Lynott averages seven points from her wing position and "does all the dirty work," according to Barber.

Moraz, whose uncle, Al, is the boys varsity coach at Long Reach, is averaging four points and six rebounds, and Groves, a three-year varsity player, is averaging 11 points and nine rebounds.

"We really work well as a team," Groves said. "We're kind of like a family. We spend a lot of time together off the court and we trust each other."

Landis said the coaching staff has "given us more freedom to play our game" this season. "We're a lot more creative this year than we were last year."

Barber credits assistant coaches Chip Landis and Al Taneyhill with a lot of the team's success.

"It's a tremendous asset and blessing to me as a head coach to have their experience and knowledge behind me," Barber said. "We really work well together."

Chapelgate tied for first place last season in the B Conference with a 6-1 record. Overall, the Flames were 22-5.

And despite graduating last season's leading scorer and rebounder, Laura Starsoneck, the Flames got off to a great start this season by winning their first eight games.

Both losses this season were close - by one point to Friends and six points in overtime to Maryvale. And two victories were impressive - a 57-50 decision over Howard in the championship game of the Craig O'Connell Holiday Tournament and a 53-46 triumph last Saturday over league foe and previously undefeated St John's at Prospect Hall.

"Both of them were huge wins for us," said Landis, who had 23 points against Howard and 19 against St. John's at Prospect Hall, both team highs.

Chapelgate's small gym is heavily used, and most times the girls share the facility during practice.

"Having the gym full court is a rare thing," said Barber, who every so often schedules a 6 a.m. practice "so we can have the gym by ourselves."

Chapelgate lost in last year's conference semifinals to Notre Dame Prep, which went on to win the tournament and moved up to the A Conference. That is exactly what Barber hopes his team will do.

"That's our goal. That's what we're striving for," said Barber, who hopes the Flames will be in the A Conference by the 2002-2003 season. "We're committed this year and next to the B Conference. Right now, we're focused on doing the best we can do in the B."

This season, league play was expanded so teams play each other home and away. The Flames, who play host to Lutheran at 5 p.m. today, get another chance against Maryvale next Tuesday, and play host to St. John's at Prospect Hall next Thursday.

"We have every chance to win our conference," Moraz said. "We have the heart to do it. We're all very close and have the same goal."

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