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Rick Peterson, Top Sports News Writer
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Elijah Brooks has been a standout for Topeka West's boys basketball team from the time he stepped on campus, averaging more than 10 points as a freshman and averaging 14.8 points for his career while helping the Chargers post a 42-26 record, including a 36-11 mark (.766 percentage) over the past two-plus seasons.

But while the 6-foot-4 senior has been 'A' leader for West over the previous three seasons, he's taking on a new role this season as 'THE' leader for Rick Bloomquist's Chargers.

Brooks, who opened 2021-2022 season with a 32-point performance in a 69-57 win over Washburn Rural, has plenty of talented players around him, but he and Bloomquist both know that Brooks has to set the tone for West.

After learning from the seniors before him, including Shawnee County co-players of the year Trevion Alexander and Marque Wilkerson last season, Brooks is happy to take on the leadership mantle..

"I actually love that role,'' Brooks said. "Watching (last year's seniors) and especially Tre prepared me to take on this big role for my team,'' Brooks said. "Whatever I can do to help my team win, that's honestly what I'm going to do at the end of the day.''

Brooks and the Chargers got off to a impressive start in last Friday's win, with Brooks slamming home four first-half dunks as West opened up a commanding 24-8 lead and held off Rural, which played for the Class 6A title in 2019, the rest of the way.

ElijahBrooksWR4Topeka West senior Elijah Brooks slams down one of his four first-half dunks on the way to a 32-point performance in Friday's 69-57 win over Washburn Rural. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

"I think it gets the whole crowd involved and it gets my team hyped,'' Brooks said of the dunks. "I think we were all ready for this (first) game,'' Brooks said. "In practice and stuff we were just anxious for the game and the coaches could tell.''

After going 21-3 a season ago and making it to the 5A boys title game for only the third time in school history, the goal this winter is an obvious one, to make another run at what would be the Chargers' first state crown.

"Everybody on our team, we're like hungry pitbulls because we want to get back to the state tournament and get the same type of feeling and everything,'' Brooks said. "I think we're all just dogs, to be honest.''

One thing Brooks doesn't have to worry about is resting on his laurels, not as long as Bloomquist is around.

"When you've got a kid like Elijah you've got to go through him, you want to use him and make the best of his abilities,''  said Bloomquist, who has posted more than 500 career wins and has taken Emporia and West to state championship games

"He's got to learn to play more without the ball. There's a lot he's got to learn, because he's a focal point for this basketball team and he's got to make everybody else better besides himself.''

Brooks understands and accept those expectations.

"(Bloomquist) looks at me to set the example and when I don't he really gets on me and makes an example of me to everybody,'' Brooks said. "I'll take it though. I love it.''

A look at Tuesday's Shawnee County games:



Seaman, a Class 5A state tournament team the past two seasons, opened with a 69-12 Centennial League romp at Junction City on Friday, getting 15 points from freshman Anna Becker, 14 from sophomore Taylin Stallbaumer and 11 from sophomore Brooklyn Gormley. Topeka West dropped a 54-14 league home decision to 6A power Washburn Rural. The Chargers struggled offensively, scoring just two points in the first half on a pair of free throws.


Hayden will open its season Tuesday night while Highland Park is coming off a 59-21 Centennial League loss to state-ranked Emporia. Highland Park got off to a solid start against the Spartans and trailed by just 11 points at halftime before Emporia pulled away with a 31-4 second half. Amelia Ramsey, a 6-0 freshman, scpred 12 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in her debut for Highland Park. 


Senior Talayah Thomas scored 21 points with three 3-pointers and grabbed six rebounds as Topeka High opened its season with a decisive 63-41 Centennial League win at Manhattan.  Junior Kiki Smith added 17 points and dished out six assists while junior Faith Shields had 13 points for the Trojans, who are ranked No. 8 in Class 6A after finishing second in the state tournament at year ago. Senior Dayshauna Wiley led Topeka High with seven rebounds. Junction City opened its season with a 69-12 loss league to Seaman and dropped a non-league decision to Shawnee Mission North on Monday.


Washburn Rural, ranked No. 2 in Class 6A by the Kansas Basetball Coaches Association, opened it season with a 54-14 Centennial League romp at Topeka West. Senior Emma Krueger led the Junior Blues with 13 points while sophomore Zoe Canfield had 12 points and hit three 3-pointers. Emporia opened with a 59-21 league win at Highland Park, with Gracie Gilpin leading the way with 19 points and hitting four 3-pointers.


After having Friday night off, Shawnee Heights will open its season with a non-league contest at Spring Hill.


Cair Paravel will be looking to bounce back from a 28-24 loss to the Northeast Kansas Saints when the Lions go on the road to face Christ Prep.


Silver Lake, which is ranked No. 5 in Class 3A by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association, opened its season with a 48-41 victory over Jefferson West last Thursday as McKinley Kruger, MaKenzie McDaniel and Mariah Farmer combined for 43 points. Kruger led the way with 16 points while McDaniel had 15 points and Farmer 12.


Rossville will open its seaon against Bishop Ward in the opening round of the Irish Classic Tuesday on the Bulldawgs' home floor. Rossville will also play tournament games on Friday and Saturday.



Topeka West opened its season with a 69-57 home Centennial League win over Washburn Rural while Seaman dropped an 80-63 road decision at Junction City. Senior Elijah Brooks led West with a game-high 32 points and Sincere Austin added 13 against Rural while Mateo Hyman scored 20 points and Ty Henry 14 for Seaman against Junction City.


Hayden will open its season Tuesday night, making its debut under new head coach Dwayne Paul. Highland Park opened its season with a 79-45 Centennial League romp past Emporia last Friday at Hi Park, with senior Juan'Tario Roberts leading the Scots with 27 points.


Topeka High opened its season with a 67-46 Centennial League loss at Manhattan. High trailed by just a 30-28 margin at the half before Manhattan boosted its advantage to 45-37 at the end of the third quarter and put the Trojans away with a 22-9 fourth quarter. Junction City used a 31-point fourth quarter to put Seaman away in an 80-63 Centennial League win Friday night at Junction City. Howard Johnson scored a game-high 30 points for the Blue Jays, one of four Junction City players in double figures.


Both teams will be looking for their first wins of the season, with Washburn Rural coming off a 69-57 league loss at Topeka West and Emporia dropping a 79-45 league decision at Highland Park. Senior Quincey Kidd scored 18 points for Rural against Topeka West, while junior Jack Bachelor added 13 points and sophomore Griffin Durst 12.


Cair Paravel will take a 2-1 record into Tuesday night's game at Christ Prep and is coming off a 66-28 win over the Northeast Kansas Saints. Senior Zachary Clark is averaging 12.7 points for the Lions while senior Noah Hastert is averaging 9.7 points and 10.7 rebounds and senior Carter Brian is averaging 9.3 points.


Silver Lake opened its season with an impressive 55-25 win over Jefferson West last Thursday. The Eagles opened up a 17-9 first-quarter advantage and took a 28-13 lead to the locker room at halftime. Silver Lake increased its cushion to 41-16 by the end of the third quarter and cruised the rest of the way. The Eagles had 11 players crack the scoring column, including four with at least 7 points. Senior Troy Heiman paced Silver Lake with 10 points while Carson Johnson and Kamryn Kaniper added 9 points each and Sam Kaff had 7 points.


Rossville will open its seaon against Bishop Ward in the opening round of the Irish Classic Tuesday on the Bulldawgs' home floor. Rossville will also play tournament games on Friday and Saturday.







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