In the 7 seasons before Earl Brown became head coach of the Fitzgerald girls basketball program, the team won a total of 3 games.
But who would've thought the arrival of No. 3 would be the spark of the best run in program history.
You can count Kirstin Crook's career points: 1,552—by far a school record.
Go ahead and tally her career wins: 72—The most in a 4-year run for the Lady Canes
But no number can describe the emotions the senior guard felt when she removed her Fitzgerald jersey one last time in a final 4 defeat. A stage foreign to the program before her arrival.
"It was a great way to end it, considering the school had never been that far," -Kirstin Crook.
But as this Lady Hurricane exits, a storm talent is primed to follow. That includes the sophomores in the class of 2020.
One of which is her little sister Kyah, who has the perfect mentor.
"Kirstin is all about playing with heart," said Kyah. "More than just talent, so we've learned that from her."
"She's a really good athlete and person," said Kirstin of her baby sister. "I think with her she just needs to build confidence."
The Lady Canes are returning 4 starters next season. The absence of their leading scorer means more opportunities for girls like Trinity Jones.
"Next year we've got to come back harder and the offseason has got to be crucial," said Jones who averaged just under a dozen points.
That's been the culture since Earl Brown took over in 2013.
Sophomore Zenovia Ellis transferred in from Albany High last year and already feels it.
"We have people that have heart for this basketball," said Ellis.
The back-to-back region champs chemistry is excellent on the court, and it will only continue to grow over the offseason. Even in the absence of a presence as great as Kirstin.
"It is bittersweet, but knowing that they can still step up without you makes you feel good makes you feel like you helped them with something."
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