Fans in Eleanor Roosevelt’s gym were beginning to retake their seats about a minute after guard Cameron Brown’s alley-oop dunk midway through the third quarter Friday night, but guard Isaiah Gross kept them standing.
On the Raiders’ next possession, guard Kyle Rose tossed an inbound pass near the basket to Gross, who threw down a two-handed dunk, causing spectators in the packed Greenbelt gym to reach their loudest cheers of the night in the seventh-ranked Raiders’ 79-57 win over No. 17 Bowie.
“It’s over,” one fan screamed as he covered his face with his hands. “I’m done with basketball.”
Brown and Gross put an exclamation on Eleanor Roosevelt’s win. One of Maryland’s best duos combined for 41 points as the Raiders (7-3) staked an early claim to top team in Prince George’s County.
“Cam and I, we’re kind of the same person,” Gross said, “but Cam’s a little taller.”
During Eleanor Roosevelt’s basketball tryouts in November 2015, Gross noticed Brown’s toughness right away. The freshmen were placed on the same team during a scrimmage, and Brown crossed over two defenders before finishing a layup.
While Brown spent the majority of his freshman season on varsity, he and Gross started the following year as sophomores. The players shared the same lunch period, where they bonded over chats about basketball and video games. The past two years, Brown and Gross have played on the same AAU team.
Brown and Gross said they have similar skill sets, with the ability to slash toward the basket yet also score from the perimeter. Still, Brown said it took until the end of last season for him and Gross to grasp each other’s timing.
When Gross was rusty against Corona del Sol (Ariz.) on Dec. 8, Brown scored 33 points. Five days later against No. 1 DeMatha, when Brown struggled, Gross notched 34 points to keep the game close. Off the court, Brown and Gross team up on Fortnite a few times every week.
“We’re brothers now,” said Brown, a William and Mary signee.
Since winning the Maryland 4A championship in 2016, Eleanor Roosevelt has fallen in the Maryland 4A South title game twice. The Raiders have never gone more than two years without a region title under Coach Brendan O’Connell, though.
Brown and Gross traded jokes on the bench during the final minute of their victory against Bowie (6-2), and they smiled at each other when reserve forward Solomon Eric sunk a free throw. In March, the pair hope to experience a greater sense of joy in the state championship.
“Having two of the best players in the county on your team is rare,” O’Connell said. “It makes my life a lot easier.”