Glenelg backcourt fits into a proud tradition

Girls basketball: Chela Hamilton and Chrissy Starcher have expanded on their solid skills for the No. 3 Gladiators, who have a history of talented guards.

High Schools

February 02, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Back in the not-so-distant past, the "G" that stood for the Glenelg girls basketball program could have also stood for "guard."

Players like Lauren Martin, Sylke Knuppel, Lisa Pope and sisters Merri-Ellen and Michele James once graced the Gladiators' backcourt. All five finished as members of the 1,000-point club.

Lately, the play of junior Chela Hamilton and senior Chrissy Starcher has revived memories of those days. The two have also fortified No. 3 Glenelg's hopes of capturing a third state title in five seasons.

"They bring tenacity, speed and quickness," Centennial coach Ed Trout said of Hamilton and Starcher. "You need that to be successful, and they certainly have that."

Said Oakland Mills coach Marcus Lewis: "When those two play well, Glenelg is tough to beat."

Starcher and Hamilton have experienced the thrill of playing on a state championship team. Both were major contributors of the 2000-01 squad that defeated Southern of Garrett County for the state crown.

When the spotlight centered on 6-foot senior forward Alli Biggs and 6-2 senior center Cheyenne Davidson, Starcher and Hamilton were seemingly content to feed the ball to their teammates in the lane and concentrate on defense.

That changed two months ago, when Davidson broke the pinkie finger on her right hand during a game Dec. 16 and 6-foot senior forward Jess Burt was still hobbled by a stress fracture from the cross country season.

"I think last year, they really looked more for Alli and Cheyenne to score," said Gladiators coach Ciaran Lesikar. "Partially due to necessity, they've had to pick up their game and kind of fill in."

Lesikar said the first glimpse of the guards' emergence came during a holiday tournament in Easton, Pa., where Hamilton and Starcher combined to score 40 of the team's 71 points in two games.

Since then, they have been a consistent presence in the box score. Starcher is averaging 10.6 points, and with 20 three-pointers, she is on pace to pass the 32 she scored last year.

Hamilton is averaging eight points, but the duo has posted its most significant gains off the backboards.

They each averaged three rebounds last season, but Starcher and Hamilton are each averaging five this season.

And the Gladiators? They're 12-2 overall, 9-1 in Howard County.

Hamilton, who has devoted herself to playing basketball since kindergarten, prefers to shut down an opponent and grab rebounds rather than score points.

"Chela pretty much starts our defense," Starcher said. "She's fast; she's everywhere. She brings a lot of hustle to the team, the kind of hustle we need."

Starcher, who also plays soccer and softball, is a good shooter who could live with feeding the ball.

"She gets a lot of assists," Hamilton said. "She's right on time with her passes."

Both guards said they knew the expectations placed upon them at the start of the season.

"I always felt there was a lot of pressure on us," Hamilton said. "When Cheyenne got hurt, I don't think it was any different."

And both know that they will have to continue their solid play to thwart teams that intend to key on Glenelg's big players.

"They still double down on Cheyenne," Starcher said. "I think we're just as big of a threat as our post players are."

Lesikar isn't too concerned about expecting points from Hamilton and Starcher. He said he'll be happy as long as Hamilton stays out of foul trouble (she has fouled out only once this season compared to six times last season) and Starcher refines her ability to penetrate zone defenses and "stop and pop" short jumpers.

Lesikar said their value arises from their ability to communicate with their teammates and lead by example.

"They're probably the most natural leaders we have on the team," he said. "The kids look to them for guidance, for acceptance, the whole deal. To have the two of them step up and be cohesive, it affects the entire team."

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