Brush strokes: He overcomes adversity
Appeal Sports Writer
Fond as he is of taking his father’s Jeep four-wheeling, Carson’s Kevin Brush immediately discovered that if he wanted to get to the top of a mountain, he’d first have to get over a lot of bumps and a lot of humps.
But little did he know that in order to get to the top of his basketball game in his senior year, he’d first have to get over the mumps.
“The mumps…I don’t know how I could get that. I had an immunization shot,” Brush said last week. “In Europe they get it a lot when they’re older – like in their 20s. In America you’re not supposed to get it.”
It could’ve been worse, of course. After all mumps isn’t fatal, it just gives you a sore throat and saps your energy. But when you’re supposed to be racing up and down a basketball court, you may as well try and climb a ladder with both hands tied behind your back.
And for the 17-year-old Brush, who plays guard for the Senators, that pretty much sums up what it must feel like to try and get through a whole season healthy.
As a freshman he suffered a broken thumb. Two sprained ankles and a dislocated pinkie loused up his sophomore year. But on a routine play as a junior on last year’s varsity team, Brush’s bad luck got even worse.
“In the third game of the Douglas Tournament it just looked like a hand caught him in the eye,” said Carson coach Bruce Barnes. “We thought he just got poked in the eye. But when you looked at (the eye) it made you sick. It was lacerated all the way across. We thought he’d lose the eye.”
Brush said he was going up for a rebound when the other player’s fingernail jammed into his orb.
“When it happened I didn’t think too much of it,” Brush said. “It was a little blurry. But by the end of the game everything was black on that side. I couldn’t see out of it.”
Brush visited a hospital after the game, but because there was no eye doctor on staff he received only a pain shot. The trauma caused him to throw up and, in an understatement, Brush admitted to “being a little worried.”
He went to a specialist the next day and learned that the inside of his eye had filled with blood. He couldn’t see out of it for two weeks and was advised that he could go blind permanently if he were poked in that eye again or even develop glaucoma at an early age.
Not to be deterred, Brush donned a pair of goggles and finished up the year, which isn’t surprising for someone nicknamed “Cowboy” by his CHS soccer teammates because of the way he ran bull-legged after suffering yet another injury as a junior when his hip muscle pulled away from the bone.
With the various afflictions he’s suffered as a two-sport athlete, it’s no wonder Brush wasn’t in the best of spirits after contracting the mumps just before this basketball season began.
“You could say the kid has fought through some adversity,” Barnes said of Brush. “There are only about a thousand cases (of mumps) diagnosed in the country a year. It’s crazy. But he’s fought back from that and he’s just now getting up to speed. When you watch him play, you can tell it’s important to him.”
The 6-foot-1 guard is averaging around 12 points, six rebounds and four assists per game for the Senators, who improved to 8-9 overall and 2-2 in the Sierra League with a thrilling 43-42 win over arch-rival Douglas Tuesday at Morse Burley Gym.
In addition to scoring nine points – including a clutch 3-pointer to tie the game 38-38 with 1 minute, 22 seconds remaining – against the Tigers, Brush also displayed the instincts that made him an all-league defenseman for the Senators soccer team last year.
With just more than three seconds remaining Douglas inbounded to 6-foot-10 center Keith Olson, who had scored 20 points for the Tigers. But Brush was all over Olson and caught just enough of the ball to help throw off the rhythm of Jordan Hadlock (who passed the tipped ball) and Kevin Emm, who missed the last-second shot.
In spite of his spirited game, Steve Brush, Kevin’s father, said his son wasn’t giving himself a hearty slap on the back after his stellar effort against Douglas.
“He was musing about the (three) free throws he missed (in the first quarter),” Steve Brush said. “It bugged him. He didn’t want to let anybody down.”
Qualities like that are what inspire Brush’s teammates.
“He has good leadership qualities,” Barnes said. “He leads more by example than anything else. He penetrates well. He’s probably our best shooter and he’s one of our best defenders. For a guard, he’s strong in the post.
“He’s multidimensional. He can do everything for us. He’s a very important spoke in the wheel. He gives us options. With his experience he has to be the guy to calm us down during erratic periods of the game. We want him to be more vocal so they (his teammates) aren’t just watching him, but listening to him more.”
Brush’s teammate and friend, Steve Mandoki, said his fellow senior is “mellow and outgoing around his friends,” and also praised his versatility on the court.
“He’s a real aggressive player,” Mandoki said. “He can play down low. He can play any position. He can run point if he wants to.”
Brush, who said he carries between a 3.1 and 3.2 grade point average, said he’s not likely to pursue college athletics and will likely concentrate on his academics to pay for his education.
But barring any more injuries or maladies, there’s still some time to watch Brush at work on the basketball court, where he won’t let any bumps, humps or mumps keep him down.