With postseason looming, York County stars Trinity Thomas, Eli Brooks dealing with injuries

STEVE HEISER
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Trinity Thomas

Two of York County’s best-known major-college performers are dealing with ankle injuries that could impact their postseason hopes.

Former West York High School athlete Trinity Thomas was sidelined for Florida’s gymnastics meet on Friday against Alabama.

Spring Grove High School graduate Eli Brooks, meanwhile, missed most of Michigan’s men’s basketball game on Sunday against rival Michigan State.

According to the Florida gymnastics website, Thomas injured her ankles during a pre-meet warm-up for the uneven bars on Friday.

According to Florida, the junior was held out of the Alabama meet as a precautionary measure, with the team looking ahead to some major postseason events, including the Southeastern Conference Championships on Saturday, March 20. That will be followed by the NCAA Division I Regionals from April 1 through April 3, the NCAA semifinals (April 16) and NCAA finals (April 17).

Thomas is considered a major championship threat in all of those events.

Thomas was coming off one of the best performances of her college career on Friday, Feb. 26, when she registered two perfect 10.0 performances (bars, floor) for the No. 1 Gators in a 198.275-197.025 victory over Auburn.

Those perfect scores helped the junior earn yet another SEC Gymnast of the Week Award. It was the fourth time Thomas had won the SEC weekly honor this season and extends her SEC all-time leading total to 15. She has seven perfect 10.0 scores for her college career.

Thomas won the all-around crown vs. Auburn with the SEC's top total of the weekend (39.75). It was Thomas’ fourth all-around title of 2021 and the 18th of her career.

After the Auburn meet, her national rankings were: all-around (No. 1, 39.788); vault (No. T3, 9.944); bars (No. 1, 9.975); beam (No. T4, 9.944); and floor (No. 1, 9.975).

Even without Thomas against No. 6 Alabama this past Friday, the Gators earned a 197.425-197.225 victory to improve to 8-0 overall and 7-0 in the SEC. The win gave Florida its second consecutive undefeated SEC regular season.

Michigan guard Eli Brooks is examined after a play during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan State, Sunday, March 7, 2021, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Wolverines lose without Brooks: No. 2 Michigan, without Brooks, wasn’t quite as fortunate on Sunday, dropping a 70-64 decision to Michigan State.

The 6-foot, 1-inch senior guard hurt his left ankle early in the game at the Breslin Center vs. Michigan State and did not return. That could potentially be a major problem for the Wolverines going into the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments. Brooks ranks fourth on the team with eight-plus points per game, averages nearly three assists a game and has started 51 games over two seasons. He is also considered a lockdown defender.

"He makes plays offensively and defensively," teammate Mike Smith said. "He's kind of like the glue guy of the team. When he went down, we had to figure out another way to pick up for him on both sides of the ball."

Brooks had a protective boot on his left leg as he watched the second half vs. the Spartans. Michigan coach Juwan Howard did not have an update on Brooks after the game.

"When we get home (to Ann Arbor) we're going to take a look and see after we've had our doctors take a look at it," Howard said. "It was a big loss. No matter what, you can never prepare when you lose one of your main guys."

"... We just pray that (Brooks) gets back healthy. That's the most important thing is about his health."

Michigan guard Eli Brooks (55) is hugged by coach Juwan Howard after being removed during the team's NCAA college basketball game against Michigan State, Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Anoither of Brooks' teammates, Isaiah Livers, talked about Brooks' spirits after Sunday's game.

"He seemed to be all right," Livers said. "You know he's a warrior. He twisted his ankle. I didn't get to see the replay, but it had to be bad if Eli can't get back out there. He'll rest up and hopefully we get him back in time for the tournament."

The Sunday loss dropped Michigan to 19-3 overall and 14-3 in the Big Ten. Michigan State, which is fighting for an NCAA Tournament berth, improved to 15-11 and 9-11.

The Wolverines had wrapped up the conference championship Thursday night with a 69-50 win over the Spartans.

Michigan opens Big Ten Conference Tournament action on Friday in the quarterfinals.

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com. The Associated Press and the Detroit News, through the TNS news service, contributed to this report.