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SEABROOK – Coming into this season, Isaiah Gross had one goal in mind: winning a state championship. The senior guard shared his disappointment of losing in the regional final in 2018 and was willing to do anything possible to help Eleanor Roosevelt High School become champions again.
Fast-forward to March 16, after having the winners’ medal placed around his neck, Gross let out a sigh of relief before celebrating with his teammates, knowing that the mission was complete.
“We came up short last year; I thought we were going to be here last year,” Gross said with the 4A state championship plaque standing in front of him. “But just coming in here and finishing my final year on a high note was really great.”
Gross exemplified leadership while allowing his raw talent on the court to excel. Working in tandem with fellow senior Cameron Brown, the duo led the Raiders to their fourth state championship in school history. The 6-foot-3 senior was a large part of Roosevelt’s success with his impressive offensive talent and suffocating defense.
For his ability to perform at a high-level in a consistently on both sides of the ball and helping to reestablish Roosevelt as one of the counties premier basketball teams, Gross was selected to be recognized as the Prince George’s Sentinel Player of the Year.
Early in the season, the senior showed his offensive prowess by helping the Raiders eliminate a 20-point deflect down to the single digits before falling to DeMatha on Dec. 13. Gross’ 35-point performance against the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) squad was seen as his coming-out party, but head coach Brendan O’Connell saw it as his star player rising to his potential.
“Isaiah (Gross) does this all the time,” O’Connell said. “He has been a starter for us since his sophomore year, and he is a great player to coach. He is one of our team leaders.”
Gross and Brown worked together in leading Roosevelt to an undefeated record (22-0) against fellow PGCPS competition. Individually, Gross averaged 17 points a game while being the key leader on a defense that only allowed 53 points a game.
In big-game situations, Gross made his presence known. Against Frederick Douglass in the 2019 Prince George’s County Championships on Feb. 27, the guard was unstoppable in attacking the paint and shooting long-range baskets, scoring a game-high 32 points to lead Roosevelt to their first of three championship wins this year.
In the regional championship game against High Point on March 8, he avenged last year’s loss with a game-high 28 points in Roosevelt’s dazzling 24-point win over High Point. Days later, Gross hit three-straight free throws with less than four seconds remaining to help the Raiders survive a competitive battle in the state semifinals against Dulaney on March 24.
However, it would be his defense that would provide the deathblow needed to defeat Broadneck in the finals. After being double-teamed every time he touched the ball, Gross used his physicality on defense to jumpstart Roosevelt’s 27-8 run the second quarter, sealing the championship title they have desired since 2016.