MEET THE COACH OF THE YEAR:
St. Joseph-Ogden’s Brian Brooks
What he did: Guided the Spartans to their first state semifinal appearance and set a school record for wins (29) in a season. Helped SJ-O win its first Leader Classic title since 2008 before the Spartans worked their way through the Sangamon Valley Conference unscathed to finish 7-0 in league play and win a conference championship. The Spartans won second ever sectional championship on March 1 by routing Monticello 65-38 and ended season by hoisting a Class 2A fourth-place state trophy on the floor of Carver Arena in Peoria.
Season highlight: “It’s got to be the kids bringing home the first state trophy in boys’ basketball to the school. That was the culmination of all their hard work. They were focused on getting to Peoria and being the first team to ever bring home a state basketball trophy. I’ve gone to the state tournament for years, both small school and large school, and you always hope your kids get an opportunity to play there, but it all happened so fast that you don’t realize you’re playing there at times. I don’t know that it has sunk in yet.”
A few of my favorite things: Pizza ... “Remember the Titans,” “Miracle,” and “Hoosiers,” ... Denzel Washington ... Bruce Springsteen ... Darcy’s Pint in Springfield ... Bagging groceries at Randall’s Grocery Store in Peoria ... “Leading with the Heart,” by Mike Krzyzewski ... St. Louis Cardinals ... Scheels, a sporting goods store in Springfield.
Three things on my bucket list: Go to Hawaii, go to a Final Four and go to Europe.
About Coach Brooks: “To be honest, he’s almost like a second father to me now. We’ve become so close since my freshman year. Our relationship is so strong. He’s helped me out through family times, basketball times, inside school and outside school. I know that’s one guy who has played a big part in my life throughout high school, and he’ll always be there for me. When you first meet him, you’re a little intimidated. It’s the head basketball coach and the principal. Once you get to know him and talk to him, he’s just a big teddy bear.” — Chase Patton, SJ-O senior