Alonzo Verge dazzled the crowd on Friday in Oak Lawn. They counted points, steals and assists and marveled at his all-around skill. It was the season’s premier performance.
Verge had 43 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and five steals to lead the Wildcats to an 81-70 victory over Bloom in the Richards Class 4A regional final.
His teammates carried him off the court. Verge teared up talking to reporters about how much the victory meant to him and then ran over to hug his mom.
“He’s emotional, he’s been through a lot,” Thornton coach Tai Streets said. “A lot of schools, a lot of different things. At the end of the day he’s a great kid. He makes mistakes, everyone makes mistakes. He’s learning from them. I think he’s turned the corner now.”
The Wildcats (22-5) needed everything Verge had. Orlando Allen, Thornton’s second best player, spent the majority of the first quarter on the bench with foul trouble. He never got into the flow of the game and fouled out midway through the fourth quarter.
“I knew I had to step it up,” Verge said. “I just took over for him.”
Bloom beat Thornton on Valentine’s Day. The Blazing Trojans (21-7) held Verge to just 6 of 28 shooting.
“I watched that film, watched how they pressured me,” Verge said. “Every time I came off a screen they would double me.”
Verge scored 13 in the first quarter and 10 each in the final three quarters.
“Once my shot is on it is really hard to stop me because I can attack the basket too and I’m going to look for my teammates,” Verge said.
Bloom senior Austin Richie finished with 36 points and seven rebounds. His teammates just had off nights.
“[Richie’s performance] pushed me a lot, I just wanted to win,” Verge said. “That’s all I did, I put everything on the line for my team.”
Senior Christian Anderson had 16 points and Derron Bromfield added nine for Thornton.
“[Verge] came out and led us from the start,” Anderson said. “He wanted to get the team involved. He brought everybody’s confidence up. We were all ready. He was hot but made sure everyone was ready.”
Bloom outrebounded the Wildcats back in February. Thornton didn’t let that happen again. The Wildcats dominated the boards 41-25.
“They kicked our butt last time,” Streets said. “They out toughed us. Our guys stepped up to the challenge.”
Thornton will face Brother Rice on Wednesday in the sectional semifinals at Thornwood.