Millbrook assistant boys basketball coach Chris Davis remembers the scene vividly. During a “Battle of the ’Brooks” game between East Millbrook and West Millbrook middle schools five years ago, he first witnessed the tandem of Chris Clemons and Robert Brown.
Today, the duo – Brown standing 6-foot-9 and Clemons a foot shorter at 5-9 – are best friends. As seniors together at Millbrook High, they have solidified themselves in the school’s record book this year while helping to lead the Wildcats to Thursday’s N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A quarterfinals.
But their friendship and on-court exploits go back to their days at East Millbrook.
“For middle school, Rob’s a gargantuan and Chris is a midget,” Davis recalls. “Chris is pushing the ball up the court, sits down on the floor and makes a bounce pass to Rob, and Rob missed the layup. (Chris) slaps the floor and goes, ‘Come on, Robert! You’ve got to finish, Robert!’
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“The only person that Rob would listen to was the little guy. … Even now, if Rob is off, Chris yells at him. I don’t care what we say to Rob. Rob will listen, but if (Chris) says it, it’s the gospel.”
Clemons laughs at the story but knows the relationship goes both ways. When Clemons, who is averaging more than 24 points per game, struggled offensively Monday in Millbrook’s second-round game against East Wake, it was Brown who led the Wildcats in scoring with 24 points.
A day later, Brown’s 27-point outing in the Wildcats’ win over Knightdale broke the Millbrook all-time career scoring record, bringing his total to 1,239 points over the past four seasons. Clemons eclipsed his own single-game program record with 41 points in the win to move up to third on the career scoring list with 1,197.
“We enjoy playing together – all of our team does,” Clemons said. “Being friends and playing together for so long, we have a really special chemistry that most people don’t have. Me and Andrew (Evans) have been playing together for about eight or nine years now, and me and Rob have been playing together for five or so.
“It’s very important for us to have the chemistry on the court and knowing where each other is going to be and how each other is going to play, so it’s really helping us and our team a lot.”
Millbrook, seeded No. 2 in the East, will face No. 3 Fayetteville 71st in the regional semifinals Thursday at Fayetteville’s Crown Coliseum. The Wildcats’ season ended in the regional game there last year.
Clemons has already committed to play college basketball for Campbell, and Brown has yet to commit. Right now they are focused on making sure their senior season lasts as long as possible.
“Chris is my best friend. We’ve been playing since middle school, so it’s just like second nature with us,” Brown said. “I’m just happy to be in my senior year with him playing throughout the whole year and then trying to win a ring together. It’s the best feeling in the world, and we’re just going to come out and play every team our hardest and get the ring this year.”