CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Illinois -- The number one team in the state will get the best effort from each opponent every night. Last week's matchup between the Bloom Blazing Trojans and the Kankakee Kays on Dec. 3rd. showed the duality of being both the hunter and the hunted in high school basketball. From the onset, the back and forth nature of the game was established. Bloom got out to an early 15-9 lead that saw Christian Shumate (#24) complete an alley-oop thrown off the backboard.
Kankakee wasn't deterred from the challenge and responded with a run of their own that knotted the score at 15-15 after a Deylon Johnson layup preceded a Bloom timeout. Bloom answered back and ended the quarter up 23-19.
Second quarter saw the same back and forth action, but the Kays closed the gap and the game was tied at the half 37-37.
Bloom during a break in the action
Second half is when Bloom ratcheted up the intensity of the game and with 2:25 left in the third quarter Kankakee trailed 48-41. The balanced scoring attack remained as the Trojans had half of their points among 3 players.
Midway through the 4th quarter, the Trojans pushed the lead and held a 61-50 lead that would prove to be insurmountable despite a late Kays run. 75-65 F.
Bloom remained undefeated with this win despite the effort from the opposition. Coach Dante Maddox offered how it felt to pick up a win in this game.
"It's a conference game, it's always going to be tough. Tough environment. [But] it feels good. We had to overcome a little adversity, but we still were able to withstand and hold our ground," Maddox said.
What was the key to the second half adjustment?
"Quit gambling and [just] playing solid defense," Maddox said. "Make people earn what they get. Share the ball and let the open man shoot."
Kankakee lost its first game of the season, but there were some positive takeaways from the game.
Coach Chris Pickett offered his thoughts on the difference in this contest.
"On the road playing against a team like this, you have to be totally focused on what you're doing and you have to make sure you don't make as many mistakes," Pickett said. "Tied game going into the half, we came out in the first four minutes of the third quarter and had nine empty possessions."
Pickett on if this game can be used as a measuring stick for the rest of the season.
"This is a barometer game. Game three of the season, for us to come out and see what have to work with, were confident. we put a lot of work in this summer so we know the type of team that we have.
Our message to them was, 'we won the Thanksgiving tournament, we don't want to get to high off that and losing tonight we don't want to get too low,' Pickett said. "We have to stay even keel and prepare ourselves for the next game."
Bloom's Keshawn Williams on what it's like dealing with the expectations of being the top team in the state.
"Everybody is going to come at us because we're the #1 team," said. "We just go day by day, we never know what's going to come, everyone is going to bring their hardest [effort]."
Bloom Township's Keshawn Williams during the game
Kankakee's Deylon Johnson on this matchup.
"Honestly, its just another game. You just have to come out, play hard, play with intensity and do your thing."
Deylon Johnson follows through on a free throw attempt versus Bloom