Wise seniors Eliqua Brooks and Khadijah Gibson first met and flourished as teammates at James Madison Middle School in Upper Marlboro as seventh graders. For two years, they built a bond on the court.
So no one may have been happier than Brooks when Gibson, who spent her ninth grade at Montrose Christian and tenth grade at Washington Christian, decided to come to her neighborhood high school last year. “I was ecstatic,” Brooks said.
The reunited duo keyed No. 13 Wise to a Maryland 4A final appearance. And on Friday night, in a gritty and thrilling game against No. 14 Bowie, the two combined for 47 points in a 72-70 overtime win in Bowie.
“On the court, it’s like we’re one,” said Brooks, a 5-foot-9 guard who notched 25 points. “. . . We know each other’s strength and weaknesses and we try to help each other and get better every single day. That’s why I love playing with Khadijah.”
Gibson’s presence made a difference during last year’s run, Brooks said. Together, they averaged nearly 28 points per game, just under half of their team’s 59 point-per-game average.
“It was the same feeling,” said Gibson, a 5-foot-8 guard who scored 22 points against the Bulldogs. “We knew each other. It was the same thing basically. We just rekindled the flame.”
Wise (8-1), which lost to Bowie (6-2) in two of three games last winter, took a 15-point lead, 42-27, early in the third quarter.
Bowie’s defense forced the Pumas into bad possessions and the Bulldogs used a 20-8 run to pull withine one point, 48-47, late in the third quarter. Until the end of regulation, both teams pushed each other back and forth. Wise’s biggest lead was six.
Gibson’s speed and Brooks’s toughness was the difference in the extra period. Brooks scored four points in overtime and Gibson hit one of two free throws in the final five seconds to keep the Pumas ahead. Bowie’s desperation shot fell errant.
“The entire game [Bowie] kept the intensity,” Gibson said. “It was definitely a tough game. When I’m not scoring, [Brooks] is scoring. It’s like giving each other a break.”