Division 4: Brooks leads Douglass to title, celebrates with his dad
East Lansing — Pierre Brooks II stepped on his future home court at Breslin Center Saturday morning and helped Detroit Douglass win the Division 4 championship with a 47-41 victory over Wyoming Tri-unity Christian.
Brooks, a 6-foot-5 guard and Mr. Basketball finalist headed for Michigan State, had a double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds), along with five assists and made big plays during two pivotal runs.
On the first run, Brooks made a steal and scored a layup, then knocked down a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the half to cap a 9-0 run to turn a 19-13 deficit into a 22-19 halftime lead.
Then, Brooks made a steal, leading to a thunderous dunk to conclude a 7-0 run to close out the third quarter for a 36-27 lead.
Brooks got to celebrate the championship with his teammates and, most importantly, his father, Douglass head coach Pierre Brooks.
“I’ve never said this to him personally but Pierre is the best player that I’ve ever coached and I’ve been coaching now for 22 years. Just the work that he puts in on his own, the dedication that he has to get stronger and get better every day, never had a kid like him. He just so happens to be my son, so this moment is really special for me,” the elder Brooks said in the postgame press conference.
Said Brooks II: “It’s a great feeling. It’s been a long road, especially since my freshman year we had a lot of struggles. We used to butt heads a lot. But towards the end of my high school career, my junior and senior year we really started to click a lot more. Especially with having the pandemic, just knowing that this game can be taken away from us at any point. I think me and my dad saw this as a great opportunity to develop our team and just stay focused as a whole.”
The Brooks father-son combo did develop Douglass’ team, which received a double-double from 6-10 Javantae Randle (15 points, 10 rebounds), Malik Smith (seven points), Alexander Wiltz (seven points) and Damonn Tiggs (three points, eight rebounds, three assists).
“I’d say that this is the best feeling in the world, especially winning the state championship, and also winning with your dad,” Brooks II said. “I’ve put in the work and you see the results with the state championship so it’s a great feeling.”
Brooks Sr. felt the 9-0 run was important.
"That was huge, gave us a little confidence and I think it swung the momentum in our favor,” he said.
Brooks Sr. made sure Douglass took some time off the clock to start the fourth quarter, leading to Tiggs’ perfect bounce pass to Brooks, who was cutting to the basket for a three-point play and a 39-27 cushion with 6:28 remaining.
“I want to give credit for (Coach) George Ward at King," he said. "He ran that kind of play against us and I kind of called him yesterday and I’m like, ‘Coach, if we get up I want to run that stall play that you run,’ and he told me all about it, and we’ve been working on that the last few practices and I think that helped us with our spacing.”
Tri-unity Christian couldn’t recover from the 12-point deficit despite a strong performance from 5-9 junior guard Brady Titus, who had 21 points and six assists.
How did Titus keep his team close?
While his teammates were misfiring on their shots, Titus scored 10 straight Tri-unity Christian points to keep his team within 10 points (39-29).
There was a stretch of 16 minutes and 24 seconds when only Titus scored for Tri-unity Christian, a reason Douglass went on a 28-12 run during that juncture to take the double-digit lead.
Tri-unity climbed within 43-40 with Jaden Ophoff’s 3-pointer with 1:02 left, but missed its final three shots and two of three free throws, also having Titus' breakaway layup rejected by Brooks with 1:50 left and Douglass holding a 43-37 lead.
“The Titus kid is a special player, we sent two at him and he’s not very tall, tried to put a bigger person on him, but he was able to find a way. It seemed like it was a layup to him, those mid-range shots he was taking so my hat's off to him,” Brooks said of Titus, who was 8-of-16 before missing seven of his final nine shots during the final 9-1/2 minutes.
“They have some excellent players, Pierre Brooks is a great player and their big 6-foot-10 kid (Randle) is a great player,” said 34th year Tri-unity Christian coach Mark Keeler. “Our goal was to out-team them, but we didn’t do it. We had a bad start in the second half and were playing catchup the whole second half.
“We threw the kitchen sink at him (Brooks). We knew that the big boy (Randle) and Pierre Brooks was the key to their team and I had Brady (Titus) match up with their point guard (Tiggs) and then the other two, we were running doubles and rotating our off guys to try and compensate and try to make Pierre Brooks earn every point he got. I felt we also didn’t take care of the ball at critical times and that cost us.”
Brooks II enjoyed playing on his future home court.
“It’s an amazing feeling, I didn’t quite have like a good offensive game, but I had a great facilitating game, got my guys involved and to do that on my home floor and to be like a team player on my next gym is a great feeling, especially winning a state championship in your final high school game,” said Brooks II, who made 6 of 19 shots, and 2 of 8 3-pointers