FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – It feels like deja vu at North Side High School.
“We haven’t done this since my father was on the team so that’s really special to me,” sophomore Keion Brooks Jr. said.
The Legends advance to semi-state for the first time since 1995 when Keion Brooks Sr. – then a senior by grade only – played for the team. Despite being separated by 22 years, both victories were sealed by a play from No. 12.
“You never forget your high school days of playing and the run that we made,” the elder Brooks said.
Now as an assistant coach on the North Side staff, Brooks Sr. is helping guide his son and his former team. They are one step away from the state title game in Indianapolis.
“It’s a little different to see my son in the No. 12 and to be in that situation that we were in,” Brooks Sr. said. In 1995, North Side – then called the Redskins – lost in the semi-state game to Plymouth. “We just hope we had a better outcome than I did.”
The Legends face Merrillville on Saturday at Huntington North High School for an opportunity to play at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and a Class 4A State Championship.
“He layed out a blueprint for me to get to where I wanted to go and now that I’m there he wants me to better than he was now so go ahead and win the whole thing,” Brooks Jr. said.
The memories of that regional final victory over South Side – a team Brooks Sr. recalled instantly that they played fiercely twice in the regular season – and the tough defeat to Plymouth are still vivid even more than two decades later.
“He doesn’t really reflect in terms of comparing the two but reflects in terms of being able to give some guidance and advice in terms of getting there and falling short of where you wanted to be and how to avoid that,” head coach Shabaz Khaliq said. “Obviously with Jr. on the team it’s special for him to be able to experience that with his son hands on and directly as opposed to being in the stands and able to take in every single moment of it.”
North side topped Carmel in overtime in a difficult regional final at Logansport over the weekend.
“It’s never been a coach-player relationship,” Brooks Jr. said. “It’s always been father-son, moreso a best friend so we talk, we laugh together but he’s pushing me and I love him to death.”