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  • Val T.

Pioneer coach Brooke steps down after 7 seasons

BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

Girls basketball

Jeff Brooke has stepped down as the girls basketball coach at Pioneer after seven seasons, RTC learned Wednesday.

Brooke held a meeting to tell his players of his decision earlier this week.

He will stay on as principal at the school.

Brooke compiled a 122-55 record, which was highlighted by Pioneer’s Class 1A state championship win over Loogootee in 2021. Pioneer was also the state runner-up to Loogootee in 2020.

Brooke took over in 2016 following a 2-20 season. Pioneer improved to eight wins in his first season, and by his third season in 2019, the Lady Panthers won their first sectional title in 38 years, improving their scoring average over those three years from 35.7 points per game to 48.4.

They eventually won three consecutive sectionals under Brooke.

Pioneer carried a 19-game winning streak into the 2020 state title game, a streak that was highlighted by Hailey Cripe’s 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left in a 68-66 win over Oregon-Davis in the regional semifinals.

Pioneer followed with a 62-46 win over Morgan Township later that day for their first regional title in school history. They then beat Blue River 56-30 to win the semistate one week later before a 45-43 loss to Loogootee in the state title game.

In 2020-21, Pioneer started 3-3 before going 22-1 over their final 23 games. They beat Caston, Frontier and North White to win their third straight sectional and topped Kouts and Triton to win their second consecutive regional.

They then rallied from 12 points down to beat Northfield 70-54 in the semistate, which put them in a state title game rematch with Loogootee.

This time Pioneer pulled out a title game win 43-42 on Ashlynn Brooke’s game-winning jumper with 7.0 seconds left and Mackenzie Walker’s game-clinching steal.

Olivia Brooke received the Patricia L. Roy mental award after the game. Both Olivia Brooke, a 2021 Pioneer grad, and Ashlynn, who will graduate this spring, are his daughters.

Pioneer went 21-5 in 2021-22 and 21-4 in 2022-23. Point guard Ashlynn Brooke was named a Junior All-Star in 2021-22 and an Indiana All-Star in 2022-23.

The new coach will inherit honorable mention all-RTC performers Kylie Attinger and Makenna Strycker. Attinger was also honorable mention all-Hoosier North.

Cripe and Ashlynn Brooke, the top two scorers in Pioneer girls basketball history, both played for coach Brooke.

He also was the boys basketball coach at Delphi for the 2005-06 season.

“Basketball is just an avenue to reveal character and to build character,” coach Brooke said after his team’s state title game win on Feb. 27, 2021. “My ultimate goal is to have the love of Jesus Christ in their heart and to apply that for the rest of their life. Basketball is such a small part of life in general, but we know you can learn a lot of things through basketball.”


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