By Phil Anastasia
Shaun Brooks plays basketball with a poker face: No smiles, no frowns, no tells.
But Pemberton's stoic senior let down his guard after throwing down a dunk that capped both his own sensational performance and his team's 67-62 victory over Willingboro in a triple-overtime game on Tuesday night.
"I just felt such relief," Brooks said of his 1,000-watt smile as Pemberton students charged the court after the Burlington County League Patriot Division battle. "It was finally over."
A 6-foot-4 swingman, Brooks scored a career-high 37 points and generated 14 rebounds with four blocks as Pemberton (19-3 overall, 9-1 in the Patriot) seized command of the division race.
With victories over Delran Thursday and Bordentown on Friday, Pemberton will capture the Patriot Division title. Medford Tech (10-2 in the division) can still earn a share of the crown if Pemberton losses once, or the outright title if the Hornets drop a pair.
Willingboro (16-7, 9-3) was eliminated from division contention with the loss.
"We can't win the division title but we're going for the state title and games like this will help us," Willingboro coach Jeff Haddock said. "These are the kinds of games you want to play in, especially this time of the year."
Brooks scored 12 after regulation, including Pemberton's first five of the third overtime. After Willingboro took a 55-53 lead on the first possession of the third extra session, Brooks buried a deep three-pointer from the right side to give Pemberton the lead for good.
He added a transition layup off a feed from sophomore point guard Antoine Wilson (five assists, eight rebounds) as the Hornets seized command.
"I'm a senior, I felt like I had to step up," Brooks said.
Junior guard Jeff Haddock, the son of the coach, led Willingboro with 23 points while senior guard Thomas Farrior added 16.
Brooks collected eight points and seven rebounds in the first quarter as Pemberton built a 19-4 lead.
"He was excited to play this game," said Pemberton coach Roy Heck, who registered his 300th career win in his 20th overall season, including the last 16 with the Hornets.
Sophomore swingman Ijavion Ivory added 14 points and seven rebounds for Pemberton. Ivory corralled three key offensive rebounds after regulation.
Willingboro had possession down 65-62 in the final seconds, with a chance to tie with a three-pointer.
But Wilson made a steal and fed Brooks for the dunk that stamped an exclamation point on the victory.
"We have a chance to hang a banner," Brooks said of the possibility of winning the division. "That's exciting."
Willingboro 4 18 16 9 2 4 9 -- 62
Pemberton 19 9 14 5 2 4 14 -- 67
W: Awwal Reid 4, Jeff Haddock 23, Thomas Farrior 16, Terique Robinson 6, Carey Saturne 11, Antonio Parnell 2.
P: Shaun Brooks 37, Antoine Wilson 4, Ijavion Ivory 14, Ja'Quan Pitts 4, Jean LeBrun 4, Tyrae Johnson 2, Dennis Clark 2.
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