Christy Lapihuska is one of the quieter members of the Brentsville girls basketball team, and never has called much attention to herself. This season, however, the senior guard is trying to force herself to do something that does not come naturally to her--make noise.
Lapihuska wants to be more vocal on the court so that the team's younger players can learn from her experience as a fourth-year starter. And off the court she wants to get her name in the minds of as many college recruiters as possible.
First-year coach Amy Beard said she asked Lapihuska about her reserved demeanor during preseason.
"She told me flat out that she prefers to be quiet and lead by example," Beard said. "That's fine with me, because not everybody can be vocal. But she is still a leader."
The 5-foot-5 Lapihuska, who led the team with more than 13 points per game last season, has flip-flopped between shooting guard and point guard in her high school career and is likely to keep switching this season. Beard said Lapihuska's greatest asset to the team is her versatility.
"She can shoot the three, she can pull up for the 10- to 15-footer, and she can penetrate," Beard said. "She can make her own shots or set up her teammates."
But the one element Lapihuska would like to add to her game is verbal.
"I'm trying to keep it in the back of my head to speak up when I think of something," Lapihuska said. "Being a senior, I should say more. When I was a freshman and sophomore, our senior leaders helped me a lot, so I want to do that, too. It's a big change, though."
Junior Julie Englehart is often the player to speak up first, according to Beard, and Lapihuska said that helps. "A lot of the time, I will just add on to what Julie says or back her up by saying, 'That's right,' " Lapihuska said.
Although she has played AAU basketball since sixth grade, Lapihuska has learned it is a challenge to get noticed by colleges while playing fall basketball for a Virginia A school. "Some coaches don't even realize that my season is over by the time they start scouting," Lapihuska said. "It's a situation where if I just waited, nothing would happen. I really need to go out and present myself to coaches."
With the help of her father, Charlie, Lapihuska has assembled video clips from her best games, which she sends to coaches with a letter explaining her desire to play college basketball.
She has even found the courage to hand the tape to coaches she has seen while playing at summer tournaments. She does not have any scholarship offers yet, but she has talked to George Mason and Maryland, along with several Division II schools, she said.
"I'm not really nervous about it," Lapihuska said. "They see so many players that I can't control whether they want me or not. As long as I can go to a good school that's not too far away and play with good players, I'll be happy."
Note: Brentsville will play its first game in its new gym tonight against Liberty at 6:15. The game will be a rematch of Saturday's championship game in the Fauquier Times-Democrat Tip-Off Tournament, which Liberty won, 83-48.
1999 GIRLS BASKETBALL PREVIEW
* BRENTSVILLE TIGERS
Coach: Amy Beard (first year).
1998: 11-12, 4-2 Bull Run District.
Top players: G Christy Lapihuska, Sr.; G/F Julie Englehart, Jr.; G Linda Presgraves, Jr.; G Erin Clark, Jr.; F/C Colleen Thomas, Soph.
Comment: In Lapihuska, Englehart and Presgraves, the Tigers have three quality outside shooters. Height is not one of the team's strengths, but the 5-foot-9 Thomas has shown early signs of developing into an inside presence. Look for Brentsville to increase the pace of its offense as the season progresses. Lapihuska likely will switch between the point and shooting guard positions depending on the opponent and how her back-court mates are playing.
* MANASSAS PARK
Coach: Jon Mamon (first year).
1998: 3-16, 0-6 Bull Run District.
Top players: G Chantavia Brown, Sr.; G Chantelle Brown, Sr.; F/C Jessica Madden, Sr.; G/F Jacinda Spindle, Jr.; F/C Kastine Buettner, Jr.; G Emily Key, Soph.; F/C Crystal Rinker, Jr.
Comment: The Brown sisters are identical twins, but not identical players. Chantavia has better penetration skills, and Chantelle is more of a spot shooter. The pair forms the Cougars' primary scoring threat. Madden, Buettner and Rinker will rotate down low, looking primarily to rebound and prevent easy baskets defensively. Mamon, who also coaches the Cougars' boys basketball team, said the team is working hard to establish a fluid half-court offense and does not expect to run or press much.
CAPTION: Amherst High's Cassie Campbell, right, gets her hand on a shot by Julie Englehart, among Brentsville's best outside shooters. Brentsville's other top outside threats are Christy Lapihuska, Linda Presgraves.