Additions make for big numbers

Girls basketball: Newcomers Faith Happel and Brianna Wise give Arlington Baptist the top inside-outside combination in the IAAM C Conference.

January 26, 2003|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

When it comes to inside-outside combinations, Arlington Baptist has perhaps the best ever in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland C Conference.

Junior Faith Happel, a 5-foot-11 center/forward, and freshman Brianna Wise, a 5-1 point guard, average 41.5 points per game between them.

"They are the two top players in the C Conference," said St. Timothy's coach John Bonn. "Faith is a post-sized player who has guard-type skills and guard-type speed. Brianna is a lightning-fast point guard who can shoot from outside and handle the ball with both hands.

"When you've got a Kobe-Shaq kind of thing, where they complement each other so well, you've got more than the sum of the two parts."

In two recent games against C Conference contenders, Happel and Wise put up huge numbers.

Happel had 25 points and 24 rebounds in a 46-38 win two weeks ago over Beth Tfiloh, last season's C Conference tournament runner-up. Wise scored 19.

In a 57-45 win over St. Timothy's last week, Wise scored 20 and Happel had 13 points and 29 rebounds.

Happel leads the metro area in rebounding with 19.5 and is second in scoring at 22.6. Wise averages 18.9 points and 2.9 assists.

The two have the Eagles nesting in first place in the C Conference at 7-1. At 14-2 overall, the Eagles have lost only to conference rival Garrison Forest, a game in which Happel fouled out, and to City, a game that Wise missed.

And this is just the beginning for these two.

Last season, Happel, a home-schooled student from Ellicott City, played for the Christian Home Educators Network (CHEN) team, and Wise, who lives in Owings Mills, was on the Eagles' middle school team.

Happel, who also plays volleyball for the Eagles, left the CHEN program, which didn't have enough girls to field a basketball team this season. She wasn't sure about making the transition last fall, especially since she was the only home-schooled student on the team.

"I was so nervous, but I went in there and [athletic director coach Liz Byers] made us feel so welcome and so did the girls. They were really nice and I felt like I fit right in," said Happel, of the western Baltimore County school which has had a home school umbrella for the past nine years, allowing those students to take some classes and participate in extracurricular activities.

When basketball season arrived, Happel, 16, found herself slipping into a smooth on-court rhythm with Wise, 14.

"It's OK if you have a big post person," said Happel, "but you have to have someone who can run the court and set things up so the post person can get the ball. When you have someone who's into basketball as much as you are, there's a chemistry there. You think alike."

Both girls are Amateur Athletic Union veterans - Happel for the Maryland Waves 16-and-under and Wise for NJT Conquerors 13-and-under - and are looking to play in college. That's a rarity for the C Conference, but, Wise said, their goal is to win the title and move up to the B Conference next year.

"They are just playing all the time," said Eagles first-year coach Shirley Kemp. "Last week, we had no practice because of a court conflict and they both went out and practiced. Both of them think the same way: `There's no practice, but I always have practice.' "

Kemp said it is unique for two players to jell so well so quickly.

"But if you play all year around, you develop a certain amount of skill, and when you go on the court to play, you know exactly who to pass to because they know the kind of ball you play."

Co-captain Carol Moore said the veterans have welcomed the newcomers and are feeding off the duo's commitment to the game.

"They just love basketball so much," said the senior. "Brianna likes the ball and she likes to score, but it's really cool when she makes an assist to Faith and Faith does something awesome. Brianna's like, `Go. Go! Yes. Yes!' They're not as tight as Pippen and Jordan, but they're getting there."

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