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Brookwood’s Byron Strickland slides into third base Saturday during a GISA Class AAA quarterfinal series against Stratford Academy.

To play or not to play?

That is the decision, Brookwood faced just four years ago. With just two seniors and no juniors or sophomores, the Warriors had to decide whether or not to play a varsity schedule with a team full of freshmen and eighth-graders.

Brookwood chose to play and took its lumps for it. The Warriors went 4-12 followed by an 8-12 mark in 2011.

However, those two lean seasons have paid off in a big way as the Warriors prepare to play in their second straight Final Four. After falling in a GISA Class AA semifinal a year ago, Brookwood travels to Deerfield-Windsor to open a GISA Class AAA semifinal series Friday with Game 1 at 5 p.m. Game 2 of the best-of-3 set is at 1 p.m. Saturday with the third game, if necessary, to follow.

That success, though, began with that tough call Ken Johnson had to make as he entered his first season at the helm of the Warriors’ program.

“My decision was to bring all the eighth graders up, which are our juniors now,” he said. “I felt like a year of working up here at this level would be better than staying down there. They’d get a whole lot more swings up here, they’d get more groundballs up here, more flyballs. And they’d know exactly where they’d have to bring their level up to play.

“Our attitude was just to get better every day. We weren’t worried whether we won or we lost, it was just about getting better every day.”

See Friday's edition for more details.

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