By Ryan Buck
Four of the five starters on the Brookfield basketball squad saw their dreams of a state title on the football field end with a deflating loss to state power Norwayne in the Division IV regional title game on Nov. 16.
Now that their exploits have transitioned to the hardwood, the nucleus of the Warriors’ football team has set their sights on a deep tournament run this winter.
Brookfield, behind 35 points from senior forward Jeremy Quinlan, moved one step closer to another deep tournament run with a 74-58 triumph at South Range.
The Warriors (5-1) capitalized on 10 South Range turnovers in the first half. Quinlan, who starred on the football field as a dual-threat quarterback, poured in 24 first-half points.
“The shots were there and I was just hitting them,” Quinlan said. “They were falling tonight.”
While all of Brookfield’s contributors can transition up-and-down the court seamlessly, Quinlan’s athleticism gives the Warriors an extra gear.
Late in the first quarter, Quinlan knocked away a South Range pass at his own end, raced upcourt, tipped the ball over a lunging Raider, and finished a layup for an 18-15 lead the Warriors never relinquished.
“We knew we had to get a lot of pressure on the ball,” said Brookfield senior Ryan Mosora, who finished with 14 points. “We tried to trap them a lot and get some turnovers so we could score in transition at the other end.”
South Range (3-5), fighting the injury bug with a young lineup, couldn’t overcome mistakes and Brookfield’s frenzied pace.
“Obviously, if you give a team that talented too many extra chances, they’re going to take advantage of them,” Raiders coach Dave Purins said.
Brookfield coach Bill Kovach was pleased with the intensity on the defensive end, especially the way the Warriors rebounded after their first loss a week ago.
“Usually that gets you started,” Kovach said of the transition game. “We had a poor performance against Maplewood last week and tonight we turned the corner a little bit. “We’re really going to find out next week against McDonald.”
Team chemistry, especially among the four seniors who’ve led the charge on the football field and basketball court since youth ball, can lead to a lot of wins.
“We’ve been playing sports together ever since we were little and we just have that connection,” said Mosora rushed for more than 2,000 yards and scored 36 touchdowns for Brookfield’s football team.
It’s been a gradual shift into basketball shape, but the Warriors are well on their way.
“It was a little slow at first and then we got our legs back,” said Quinlan, whose twin brother, Jimmy, also starts on the basketball team and was a starter on the football squad. “We just pass the ball, see who’s open and whoever has the best shot, they’ve got to hit it.”