C Conference has an A-list star

Girls basketball: Home-schooled Faith Happel has done more than fit in at Arlington Baptist. She is the league's dominant player.

High Schools

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

As a home-schooled student, Faith Happel had played sports with the Christian Home Educators Network, but when the numbers for CHEN's girls basketball team began to dwindle, the junior knew she needed to look elsewhere.

The Ellicott City resident found a home away from home at Arlington Baptist, which has had a home-school umbrella for the past nine years allowing those students to take classes and participate in extracurricular activities. As soon as Happel arrived, the Eagles' scoring numbers soared.

Not only has the 5-foot-11 center-forward helped put the Eagles in first place in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland C Conference, but she has also emerged as the leading rebounder and the second-leading scorer in the metro area.

Through Friday's 45-29 win over Oldfields, she was averaging 22.6 points and 19.5 rebounds. She also averages 4.9 assists.

"Faith is a post-sized player who has guard-type skills and guard-type speed," said St. Timothy's coach John Bonn. "She's a true force to be reckoned with. I believe she could be an impact player on any A Conference team."

Happel, who also plays volleyball for Arlington Baptist, said she wasn't sure about making the transition to the western Baltimore County school last fall, especially as the only home-schooled student on the team.

"I was so nervous, but I went in there and [athletic director Liz Byers] made us feel so welcome, and so did the girls. They were really nice and I felt like I fit right in," Happel said.

Byers, who coaches the volleyball team, admitted to concerns of her own about Happel's arrival.

"I was a little leery about how the girls were going to accept her because she was so good, but it was no problem at all. She's just a real team ballplayer," Byers said.

Carol Moore, senior co-captain of the Eagles basketball team, agreed.

"She came in here with all that skill, but there isn't a proud bone in her body," said Moore, who also plays volleyball. "If she sees anyone doing anything wrong, she always makes a suggestion. She never tells anyone what to do. She's a wonderful person to play with."

Happel has made a big difference in recent games with other C Conference contenders as the Eagles improved to 14-2 overall and 7-1 in the conference.

She had 25 points and 24 rebounds in a 46-38 win over Beth Tfiloh, last season's C Conference tournament runner-up. She scored only 13 in a 57-45 win over St. Timothy's, but she grabbed 29 rebounds.

"She's truly a dominant rebounder. Her hands are six inches to a foot above my girls," said Bonn, whose team is host to a rematch with the Eagles tomorrow afternoon.

An Amateur Athletic Union veteran, Happel played with the Maryland Waves 16-and-under team last summer. She'll play basketball any chance she gets.

Arlington Baptist coach Shirley Kemp spotted Happel in an outdoor pickup game last week after an evening youth meeting.

"It was freezing out there. It was 17 or 18 degrees, and she's outside playing basketball with these guys," Kemp said. "No wonder she's so good. She'll play under any conditions."

Happel isn't the only player keeping Arlington Baptist atop the C Conference. Freshman point guard Brianna Wise joins Happel to give the Eagles an inside-outside combination perhaps never seen in the conference. Wise averages 18.9 points and 2.9 assists.

"They are the two top players in the C Conference," Bonn said. "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."

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