Bloom guard Dante Maddox Jr. retreated into the corner, dribbling away from a Homewood-Flossmoor defender. The huge crowd, just a few feet away from him, roared.
It seemed to stun Maddox, who turned his head to see what was happening. But there wasn’t any kind of disturbance. The undefeated Blazing Trojans are just bringing south suburban basketball back to life.
“[H-F’s crowd] is really second to none out here,” Maddox Jr. said. “They let me have it. I knew I had to stay composed and stay focused.”
Maddox Jr. and his teammates stayed focused throughout and knocked off the No. 9 Vikings 57-53 on Friday in Flossmoor.
“Playing in front of a huge hostile crowd like that was new for us,” Bloom junior Donovan Newby said. “I loved every minute of it. Ever since freshman year I’ve been dreaming about playing in big games like this with the crowd going crazy. I loved the atmosphere of today’s game.”
Last week the No. 2 Blazing Trojans (10-0) beat Morgan Park, a city powerhouse. That was one major test passed. This was their first major road win of the season.
“It is really good for us,” Bloom coach Dante Maddox said. “I’ve been telling them that on the road all we have is ourselves. All these are character victories. It feels great when you win. These are games we need because we haven’t had a lot with crowds
Maddox Jr. scored 19 points and Newby added 17 points and five rebounds. Both guards are juniors and have been on the varsity since freshman year. Their experience is starting to show.
Martice Mitchell, Bloom’s talented 6-9 junior, sat about half the game with foul trouble. He finished with just six points and three rebounds. Keshawn Williams had five points and eight rebounds. With both of those dynamic players having off games things fell to Newby and Maddox.
They both hit huge shots down the stretch and controlled the game in the crucial moments.
“It is definitely tough [playing without Mitchell],” Maddox Jr. said. “But this is something our team is made for. When one of our main players comes out someone else steps up. It happens every game. I’m happy we have such a good, cohesive team.”
Senior Kevin Vance had five points, six rebounds and two blocks. He defended well in the post in place of Mitchell. H-F has several athletic bigs. Senior Emani Burgess chipped in with five points and five boards off the bench.
Senior Issac Stanback led the Vikings (5-2) with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Oscar Parrish and Maurion Scott each scored 10.
Bloom also beat H-F over Thanksgiving week in the Chicago Heights Classic.
“I can’t say I thought we would be undefeated [at this point in the season],” Maddox Sr. said. “I just wanted the team to be tested. Once they get used to the crowds and the jitters go away we will be ok, we will click.”
Top-ranked Young lost at home to unranked Lincoln Park on Friday. That means either Bloom or undefeated Curie, which beat Simeon and Morgan Park this week, is likely to grab the No. 1 ranking on Sunday.
Bloom is the top seed at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament later this month. Curie is No. 2, so a major showdown could happen in the title game on Dec. 30.
“I would love for that to happen,” Maddox Jr. said. “It would be huge.”