`B' league Chapelgate has `A' game

IAAM Conference Flames post 8-1 record with ease

Notebook

High School

January 17, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Here's a pop quiz: What girls basketball team boasts the county's best record this season?

It's not No. 2 River Hill (10-2), No. 4 Glenelg (9-2) or No. 5 Mount Hebron (9-2). That distinction belongs to unheralded Chapelgate, which owns an 8-1 mark and an .889 winning percentage.

Sure, the Flames play in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference and are not required to challenge the three aforementioned standouts.

But Chapelgate has reached the final of Mount Hebron's Holiday Tournament the past two years, including dropping a one-point decision to Mount Hebron last season.

"It's a very good program that I'm impressed with," said Mount Hebron coach Scott Robinson, whose team won by 15 last month. "They'd be in the upper half of the Howard County league. They're that good."

Since Jim Barber left Montrose Christian five years ago to become the coach at the Marriottsville school, Chapelgate has forged a 97-30 record and never been saddled with a sub-.500 mark.

The Flames have won the past two Maryland Christian Schools Championship Tournaments and captured their first IAAM crown last season.

Barber credits much of the program's success to the players' attitudes and work ethic.

"We've been blessed with some tremendous kids who want to work hard and get better," he said. "They want to pursue excellence in the classroom, on the court and in their spiritual lives."

The foundation is rooted in the team's practices, where rebounding and free-throw drills become contests to avoid running sprints or dribbling the basketball between the legs for the entire length of the court.

"We have a competitive edge about everything," said senior center Abby Hill, who is averaging 9.7 rebounds and 8.7 points. "We're tired and it's exams week, but all it takes is one player, and [the competitive spirit] spreads to the rest of us."

Maximizing its full-court pressure and fast-break style of play, Chapelgate is outscoring its opponents by an average of 23 points and registering more than 17 steals a game.

Barber said the Flames may seek a promotion to the A Conference once they can build a weight room and find consistent practice time in a gym that is shared by the boys team, the school orchestra and various ministries.

For now, the focus is on winning another B Conference title.

"We plan on going in and competing for it," said junior guard Heather Landis, who leads the team in scoring with 15.3 points and 6.1 assists a game. "We want to win the championship."

Learning experience

Many basketball coaches would be tearing out their hair at the prospect of an 0-6 start. Shannon Parker can't help but smile.

That's because the rookie girls basketball coach at Glenelg Country never entertained high expectations for a team that is composed of 10 freshmen, three sophomores and one junior.

Instead, Parker realizes that the reward is teaching the game to a group willing to learn.

"I have 14 motivated girls," said Parker, who succeeded Siobhan Tuohey. "They step onto the court, and there's an instant camaraderie. ... That gets you through a game when you want to hold your head in your hands."

To facilitate the learning process, Parker has implemented a system of drills emphasizing fundamentals.

While the results have been lopsided - the Dragons have been outscored 293-75 en route to a 0-6 record overall and in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland C Conference - the players said they have the patience to wait for the payoff.

"We're a really young team, and we need to learn a lot about the game," said sophomore center Alex Curtiss, who leads Glenelg Country in scoring with 6.7 points a game. "We know it will come."

Hebron's Sanders mended

Mount Hebron distance standout Matt Sanders appears to have recovered from an injured ankle just in time for the Ivan Walker County Indoor Track and Field championships in less than two weeks.

Sanders rolled his left ankle Jan. 3 and was expected to miss at least two weeks.

But the senior ran a leg of the Vikings' 3,200 relay in 2 minutes, 5 seconds at the Montgomery Invitational on Saturday.

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