Bloom led 22-8 over host Joliet Central through one quarter, but it should have been much worse.
The Blazing Trojans let the Steelmen hang around and almost paid the price. Bloom (11-6) saw its lead shrink, then vanish, but was able to come back for a crazy 67-60 win over Joliet Central at the MLK Day of Hoops.
“We missed good layups at the rim that we make any other time,” Bloom’s Jared Johnson said. “Then Joliet Central is shooting jump shots, but they switched, started going to the hole. They hit their layups. We didn’t.”
Johnson finished with 18 points and six rebounds. James Coleman added 14 points and eight rebounds and Zerell Jackson scored 16 points despite battling foul trouble.
Jaylen McGee and Jonah Coble scored 14 points apiece for Joliet Central (11-6) with Antonio Dyson (11 points, 7 rebounds) and Jerry Gillespie (9 points) also contributing.
The Steelmen tied the game at 36-36 in the third and eventually went up 55-49 in the same period.
“We tried to get it together,” Johnson said. “We needed a stop right there.”
Johnson then stepped up and hit a midrange jumper while fouled. He converted the free throw and then scored inside off a gorgeous, no-look pass from Jackson on the wing with 2:51 to go.
Bloom, which closed the game on an 18-5 spurt over the final 4:28, hit 6-of-6 free throws in the final 2:14 to ice the game.
“The midrange shot wasn’t the play, but it was open so I took it,” Johnson said with a laugh. “We hit some layups and put the game away.”