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Welcome to Tookie time
Tookie Brown had the hot hand and everyone in the Centennial gymnasium knew it. With less than 10 seconds left to play, there were no secrets as to where Morgan County was looking for a game-winning bucket against Shiloh.
Just a sophomore, Brown was the man. Armed with the confidence of someone who has been to the big stage, the 5-foot-10 sophomore got a high screen above the three-point line from C.J. Turman, went to his left and fired up a three-pointer over Evyn Smith.
And ball game.
Brown drilled the three-pointer with 1.6 ticks left on the clock in overtime and Morgan County had the 81-79 lead. Shiloh never had enough time to get a good look and that was the ball game. In a month of holiday tournaments of big game efforts from underclassmen guards, Brown had a monster game against a top flight team.
“Coach told me to get to the basket and try and score or draw a foul,” Brown, whose team was down by six with 10:06 to play in OT, said. “But I saw I had a one on one and I knew I could get that shot off.”
He did. The score was just one of several big buckets from the smallest guy on the floor. In fact, the fourth quarter and the overtime period was anchored by Brown. At one stretch of the fourth quarter, Brown made back-to-back steals that lead to scores and his perimeter game was on point.
Brown finished with 37 points, including four three-pointers and was seven of eight from the foul line. He also had eight assists, six rebounds and four steals. Brown missed six shots on the night. Efficient? You betcha.
The journey to a game-winning shot against a team like Shiloh was just another chapter in a battle-tested holiday season for Morgan County. Coming off the heels of an all-tournament showing at the famed Kingdom of the Sun where he played against four Division I point guards, Brown has been primed for this kind of stage for a while.
Brown’s high school coach Charlemagne Gibbons said he wanted to challenge his team this season and by all accounts the team has learned a lot of lessons along the way.
“Have you seen our schedule this year?” Gibbons asked after his team’s late night victory. “We have a murder’s row schedule. Now that we are 15 games into the season, I think we know who we are and where we need to go.”
He’s not a “where did he come from” kind of player. Not at all. Brown averaged 18 a game as a freshman. He helped a good Morgan County team roll into the Elite Eight last year. Brown was great on the AAU circuit with the Georgia Stars.
Alabama, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida, Miami, Ohio State, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia are taking a good early look at the 2015 prospect. Anthony Grant and John Brannen of Alabama were on hand to see him in action on New Year’s Day. So were Georgia Tech’s Brian Gregory and Chad Dollar.
Remember Sharaud Curry of Wheeler High School/Providence fame? Brown is cut from the same mold. For the record, Curry scored over 1,600 points at Providence.
By Justin Young