CHICAGO -- From nearly the moment George Marshall, Mike Powell, Kevin Gray and Keith Gray stepped on the floor as freshmen on varsity four years ago for Brooks, people have been talking about the day they would win a Chicago Public League championship.
On Friday, they finally proved those people correct.
After failing to meet expectations for most of their first three seasons, the senior quartet led No. 9 Brooks to the city title with a 67-54 win over No. 18 Whitney Young at Chicago State on Friday.
“People didn’t think we could do this,” said Marshall, who scored a game-high 23 points. “We knew we could. We knew this day was going to come. This means a lot. You could say we kind of underachieved the past few years. It means a lot that we finally got it done.”
“Everyone expected us to lose because we’re Brooks," Keith Gray said. "We never lost confidence.”
Brooks showed that confidence from the opening tip. The Eagles jumped out to a 14-7 lead after one quarter and never trailed the rest of the way.
Whitney Young put itself in position to take the lead when senior Sam Thompson cut Brooks’ advantage to 27-26 with a fast-break dunk to start the second half. With the game beginning to sway against them, the Eagles caught the break of the game.
On one possession, Brooks junior Xavier Wells sank a 3-pointer, a foul was called on Whitney Young, Brooks was given the ball again, and Kevin Gray capitalized with a layup to complete the five-point play. The Eagles went up 32-26 and didn't look back.
Wells, who came off the bench, clinched the win with two more key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. He scored all 13 of his points in the second half.
“Xavier has hit some shots, but he’s never had a breakout game,” Marshall said. “He hit some big shots today.”
Brooks’ road to the title wasn’t an easy one. The Eagles had to defeat North Lawndale, Bogan, Farragut and Curie to reach the championship game. Four of the five teams they faced during the playoffs were ranked at some point this season.
Brooks first-year coach Bobby Locke believed from the moment he was hired in August his team had this potential to win it. As a former Whitney Young player himself, Locke never experienced a city championship.
“I’m at a loss for words,” Locke said. “I don’t think it’ll hit me until tomorrow.”
Powell contributed 15 points for Brooks. Thompson finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.