Rebuilding is all the rage in baseball and now even the Bulls are trying it. The same process is going on at Bloom.
“It’s definitely a challenge that has its ups and downs,” sophomore guard Dante Maddox Jr. said. “This is the time we want to enjoy because next year and the year after we are really going to be something special.”
The Blazing Trojans start four sophomores and a junior. They received some attention early in the season, but have receded from the spotlight completely since the Pontiac Holiday Tournament in December.
“We went through tough times at the beginning of the season,” Maddox Jr. said. “We were struggling, but now we are on a winning streak and playing well.”
Bloom knocked off visiting Kankakee 73-59 on Friday for its sixth consecutive win.
“Some moments we look really good and some moments we look really immature and really bad,” Bloom coach Dante Maddox said. “I like the poise and the growth that they have shown from the beginning of the year until now.”
The Blazing Trojans (14-10, 6-4 Southland) led by six at the half. Kankakee (18-6, 5-5) pulled within three points with 3:09 to play but Bloom sealed the win with solid free-throw shooting, going 14-for-14 from the line to close the game.
Maddox Jr. led Bloom with 20 points and six rebounds. Sophomore guard Donovan Newby scored 16 and 6-9 sophomore Martice Mitchell finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
“Over the last three weeks [Mitchell] has realized what he can do and where he can do it,” Maddox said. “At the beginning of the year he struggled because he didn’t know. He’s a real tough matchup because he can shoot threes. He can post up and he has a very soft touch. The next step for him is ball handling and put backs.”
TJ Wicks, a 6-8 junior, led the Kays with 16 points and nine rebounds. Senior Lavale Hill added 10 points for Kankakee.
Maddox has been impressed with his team lately and has seen them change from players just trying to survive on the varsity level to players ready to succeed.
“They know they are young and not respected,” Maddox said. “Now the pride is starting to kick in. They are really trying to play with these guys that are two years older than them. The game has started to slow down for them and they can make plays.”
The next step is a playoff run.
“We want to go as far as possible,” Maddox Jr. said. “We don’t want to put a limit or a cap on how far we can go. Hopefully we can go out and win the games we were supposed to win and win some games we weren’t supposed to.”
The Blazing Trojans play in the Class 4A Marist regional. They will open against Washington on Monday and if they win will face Thornwood.
“Big game experience is huge,” Maddox said. “Over the next couple years I want them to be a team that is respected and eventually feared.”