The McClancy basketball season was already at a crossroads – and the Crusaders had played just one game.
That one game, though, was a 30-point loss to Iona Prep, last year’s Class A intersectional finalist, in East Elmhurst.
Longtime McClancy coach Don Kent was concerned about his how his squad would respond. After all, in three days the Crusaders would host the 27th annual Bro. Arnold Tournament and then some tough league games against Cardinal Hayes and Bishop Ford were on the horizon.
Point guard Keith Brooks wasn’t going to let a loss to Iona Prep spoil his senior season. He led the Crusaders to their first Bro. Arnold crown since 2004, beating St. Francis Prep in Sunday’s final.
“It is a big win,” senior Keith Brooks said. “We started off the season with a bad loss to a league opponent and we wanted to take this and set the tone for the rest of the season.”
Brooks picked up tournament MVP honors, scoring a game-high 23 points in the 66-57 victory against the Terriers.
“He’s a leader. He helps our offensive, defensively,” Kent said of Brooks. “The kids look to him. He’s a self-motivated kid and he wants to win, he plays to win. He came up big for us.”
It was the biggest win for Brooks since he entered the school as a transfer from Middle School 67 after ninth grade.
“It feels great to be MVP,” Brooks said. “Everybody’s been supporting me through these years. I transferred into this school and they all welcomed me. It feels great.”
The 6-foot Manhattan native made sure Sunday’s win against the ‘AA’ Terriers wasn’t a fluke. On Tuesday, the Crusaders defeated perennial ‘A’ power Cardinal Hayes and then beat Cathedral Prep on Wednesday to make it five wins in a row, setting up a showdown with defending Class A champion Bishop Ford on Friday in Brooklyn.
“I feel like we’re a team that can surprise many people because a lot of people sleep on us, everybody takes McClancy lightly,” Brooks said. “But I have a great feeling about this team. I think we really do something as long as we work hard.”