Girls Basketball: Playmaking abilities set Oak Lawn’s LaTondra Brooks apart
By Tony Baranek email@example.com January 13, 2014 9:32PM
LaTondra Brooks, of Oak Lawn | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 15, 2014 6:21AM
When it comes to scoring points, LaTondra Brooks is far from a do-it-all for Oak Lawn.
The 5-foot-6 senior guard, in fact, maintains she never looks to be the first Spartan to put the ball in the basket at the start of a game.
“I want to get everybody involved,” she said. “To win you have to make sure everybody is touching the ball. So I go in with that mind-set to get everybody involved early.”
And so it was in the championship game of the Glenbard East Tournament, when Brooks dutifully was making sure teammates Brianna Markusic and Jannah Mahmoud were getting the ball.
Spartans coach Janet Meyers had other ideas.
“Actually, in the Downers Grove North game coach wanted me to take over the game,” Brooks said. “When I would run back down the court and I would dish the ball off, she would just give me a stare.”
Ten points, seven assists and five steals later, Oak Lawn had a 60-58 victory and a championship plaque.
Brooks has maintained the course for a Spartans team that broke the school record for an unbeaten string from the beginning of the season. Oak Lawn won its first 13 games before losing Thursday to Hillcrest.
Her stats for the Spartans (14-1) reflect her versatility: 13.6 points, 5.3 assists and 6.6 steals per game.
Meyers doesn’t have to stare too often — except maybe in amazement.
“LaTondra is the transfer player that I have been waiting for my whole coaching career,” Meyers said. “She is the most talented player I have coached and the most unselfish player I have coached. She is very humble and her teammates respect her for that.
“She has made us a better team because of her passing, her ability to make plays and her ability to steal the ball. She creates scoring opportunities for not only herself, but her teammates. Her unselfish plays have become contagious, and over the years the whole team has improved in their unselfish passing skills.”
Brooks was born in Kansas City, Mo., and during her freshman season averaged 18 points per game as a varsity player at Lindbergh High School in St. Louis.
Moving to Oak Lawn for her sophomore year, Brooks made fast friends with her teammates, especially Mahmoud.
“I think she was the first person I met that summer,” Brooks said. “She was fun and outgoing and helped get me in to meet everybody around the school.”
Brooks made quite a splash on the Spartans varsity, scoring 34 points in a game early in the season to break the school record for single-game points.
She’s developed a reputation as an unselfish player who, if needed, will take it on her shoulders to drive to the basket against taller, bigger players.
Brooks more often than not comes away with the two points — and sometimes more.
“My older brother (Phillip), when I was growing up we used to go to the gym and he wouldn’t let me shoot outside shots,” Brooks said. “He was 6-4, and he’d always make me drive, try to get around him. That is where I learned how to take contact while going for a layup.”
It’s paid off for the Spartans, who have the Southland’s second-best record.
“This is great,” said Brooks, who has gotten looks from Western Michigan and Kansas State. “The team has gotten better every year, and we’ve become like a family.”