By Stu Swartz
He shall forever be a shining star in the minds of long-time Falcon basketball followers.
Doug Brookins, 1971 Fairfield High School graduate, died last Thursday at the age of 56 after a four-month illness and services were held this morning.
After all these years, Brookins still holds FHS boys basketball records for career points with 1,293 and points scored in a single season — 601 during his senior year.
Listed at 6-8 and 235 pounds as a Fairfield senior, Brookins was considered by many to be the best “big man” to step on an Elkhart County basketball court in the first three quarters of the previous century.
During Brookins’ three years as a varsity player, the Falcons posted a 57-14 record and won two East Noble sectional championships (1969 and 1971) during the single-class era.
He went on to play at Creighton University where he scored 1,115 career points. As a senior, he was the No. 2 free-throw shooter in the nation at 88.2 per cent.
Brookins was named most improved player at Creighton as a sophomore and he helped the team notch 23-7 and 20-7 records the next two years, playing in four NCAA tournament games.
He was drafted by the Washington Bullets of the NBA in the ninth round and also received several offers to play in Europe.
In 1996, Brookins was inducted into the Elkhart County Sports Hall of Fame. He would have been 57 years old on Feb. 1.
Brookins played during an era when there were several high-scoring stars on the Elkhart County basketball scene.
They included Dean Weirich of Northridge, John Ritter of Goshen, Garvin Roberson of Elkhart, Terry Johns of Jefferson and Dave Culp of Goshen who all played between 1968 and 1972 and scored at least 1,100 career points.
There is a basketball tradition in the Brookins family.
Doug’s brother Ron set a junior scoring record for the New Paris Cubs with 320 points during the 1956-57 season. He was named to The News’ all-sectional first team at Elkhart that season.
Jerry Whetten, Jim Neff and Denny Sorg were among other players for Coach Jim Hettler’s Cubs who posted a 15-8 record 53 years ago.
Doug’s son Gavin played for a Fairfield team which notched a 20-3 mark under the coaching of Larry Lael in 1994-95.
Gavin scored 267 points with a high of 25 against Fremont. Teammates included Brodie Garber, Adrian Miller, Ryan Sark and Jayme Mathews.
This reporter missed Doug Brookins’ junior and senior years at Fairfield due to serving with the U.S. Army including 1970-71 in Vietnam.
But, many stories were relayed overseas on the exploits of this fabulous Falcon star.
Brookins burst upon the scene in 1968-69 as a 6-5 sophomore, scoring 227 points for a Fairfield team which finished 19-5 and won the East Noble sectional before losing a regional game to Fort Wayne Catholic at The Coliseum.
The youngster had a high game of 29 points against Central Noble and scored 56 in three East Noble sectional contests at “The Big Blue Pit” in Kendallville.
As a junior, Brookins tallied 465 points for an FHS squad which was 20-3 but was upset 57-56 by Lakeland in the sectional. Growing to 6-7, the Falcon star scored a season-high 33 points against Westview.
The Falcons were 18-6 in Brookins’ senior season and won another East Noble sectional crown before dropping a 76-75 regional heartbreaker to Garrett at The Coliseum.
He scored what was then a Fairfield record 41 points against North Liberty and had six other games over 30.
Brookins’ senior teammates were John Wysong, Allen Postma, Rod Solina, Mike Worthman and Gary Whirledge.
Wysong, now the Fairfield coach, and Brookins formed one of the more dynamic 1-2 scoring punches in Elkhart County history. They tallied 1,052 between them that season.
Wysong scored 451 with a high of 29 against LaVille.
Brookins’ other high school teammates included Mike Wilhelm, Doug Bitting, Mike Miller, Doug Smoker, Tom Lantz, Mike Hollar, Bill Fisher, Ed Cart, Kenny Clem, Phil Hollar, Don Yoder, Mike Robinson, Bob Mauzy, Ron Weybright, Denny Yoder, Donn Huber, Brian Maust, Blain Secor, Don Weaver, Gary Weybright, Steve Miller and Bob Alvarez.
Terry Rickard was head coach. He was 23-20 in two seasons at New Paris, then 157-86 in 11 years at Fairfield following the school split with Millersburg in 1967.
In this 100th year of the Indiana state tournament, Doug Brookins is one of many departed “Hoosier Hysteria” stars who stir up pleasant memories for those who follow the game they loved.