Stylish, dominant Curie cruises past Bloom to win Pontiac title

SHARE Stylish, dominant Curie cruises past Bloom to win Pontiac title
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Curie’s Justin Harmon (24) makes his way into the paint, Saturday 12-29-18. Worsom Robinson/For Sun-Times

PONTIAC—It was the matchup that everyone wanted to see: No. 1 vs. No. 2, the area’s two undefeated teams clashing in the title game of the 88th Pontiac Holiday Tournament.

Curie, the far more experienced team, was ready for the big stage. The Condors dominated with style and cruised to a 58-44 win against Bloom on Saturday.

Ramean Hinton scored nine in the first quarter and finished with a game-high 20 points and nine rebounds. Justin Harmon added 18 and seven boards.

Juniors Hinton and Harmon and senior DaJuan Gordon are all 6-4 freak athletes. They can handle the ball and leap, presenting an immense challenge defensively for guards or bigs.

“They are matchup problems,” Curie coach Mike Oliver said. “Big guys try to guard them and they can go on the perimeter and put the ball on the floor and beat them. They’ve been doing it all year, exploiting the mismatches.”

Bloom (14-1) was off-kilter and tentative throughout the game. It was the first time in a major title game of any kind for the Blazing Trojans’ junior-heavy lineup.

“They are a great team,” Bloom’s Keshawn Williams said. “I don’t know what it was. We tried to jump on them but we came out flat. They punched us first. That hurt, that really hurt.”

Gordon, a Kansas State recruit, scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Point guard Trevon Hamilton was a huge difference-maker. His steady ball-handling and facilitating abilities keep the Condors running smoothly.

“We caught them off guard with our defense,” Oliver said. “They were out of sync. They bounced back but they never really adjusted to what we were trying to do. Our kids stayed disciplined.”

Bloom made a run in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to 48-42. Curie (14-0) reeled off six consecutive points to end the threat and ice the win.

“I told my guys on the ride over here that one advantage we had over Bloom was they are a good young team but they don’t know how to win right away at Pontiac,” Oliver said. “These two games in one day if you aren’t used to it can be a killer. Especially at 9 p.m. at night.”

Keshawn Williams and Emani Burgess each scored 10 for Bloom. Williams won the prestigious AC Williamson award, a most valuable player/sportsmanship honor voted on by the tournament officials.

“It was just fatigue,” Williams said. “We were tired.”

Curie lost to Simeon in the championship game last season. The Condors also won the tournament in 2015 and 2013.

The Blazing Trojans won the tournament in 1973 and 1963 and have finished second four times.

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