Dante Maddox Jr.’s dunk show sends Bloom to Pontiac title game

Maddox Jr. walked to the locker room holding two small cartons of chocolate milk against his wrist after the Blazing Trojans’ 61-42 victory Saturday against Benet in the semifinals.

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Bloom’s Dante Maddox, Jr. (21) dunks the ball against Benet.

Bloom’s Dante Maddox, Jr. (21) dunks the ball against Benet.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

PONTIAC, Ill. — Dante Maddox Jr. walked to the locker room holding two small cartons of chocolate milk against his wrist after Bloom’s 61-42 victory Saturday against Benet in the semifinals of the Pontiac Holiday Tournament.

Maddox, however, wasn’t thirsty; his dunk show had taken a toll on his wrist. Maddox had three dunks in a seven-minute stretch of the second half, the last one a windmill jam after a steal.

‘‘I felt good after the first two,’’ Maddox Jr. said. ‘‘So I thought on the last one I needed to turn it up a little bit.’’

Maddox Jr. finished with 21 points and four rebounds. The Blazing Trojans (12-1) led by three points when the salvo began. After the windmill dunk, they led 46-34.

‘‘He was a huge factor on both ends of the floor,’’ Benet coach Gene Heidkamp said. ‘‘His defense created a lot of issues for us. You can’t guard dunks and layups in transition, and he did a great job of creating some turnovers and getting out. The dunks obviously fired them up. In the meantime, we couldn’t score.’’

The Redwings (8-3) were 4-for-11 from three-point range in the first half and trailed only 30-24. But they made just one three-pointer in the second half.

‘‘It was kind of the perfect storm for [Bloom],’’ Heidkamp said. ‘‘To stay in a game with a team like that, you have to keep scoring. And we were dry.’’

Keshawn Williams added 12 points and Christian Shumate 10 for Bloom. Martice Mitchell had nine points and five rebounds. Four Blazing Trojans made three-pointers in the first quarter.

‘‘They weren’t expecting Martice and people to come out that hot because we haven’t been shooting that great in this tournament,’’ Maddox Jr. said. ‘‘That is what we expect. If they are going to step out and shoot those threes, I have full confidence they are going to make them.’’

Colin Crothers had 11 points and five rebounds while Jack Prock recorded 11 points and four rebounds for Benet.

‘‘I’m pleased with the team,’’ Heidkamp said. ‘‘We are moving in the right direction. Playing [in the tournament] is an awesome experience for these guys.’’

Near the end of his postgame interview session, Maddox Jr. got a bag of ice for his wrist. He didn’t have much time to heal, with Bloom scheduled to play Curie in the title game less than six hours later. The Condors beat the Blazing Trojans 58-44 in the final last year.

‘‘Last year in that game, Curie was in really good condition and they had a really good team,’’ Bloom coach Dante Maddox Sr. said. ‘‘This year, we are in a little better condition and we are a little more experienced. So we are going to do our best to bring it.’’

The Blazing Trojans won the tournament in 1963 and 1973. Curie has won it in 2013, 2015 and 2018. The last non-Public League team to win the event was Waukegan in 2009.

‘‘[Winning the title] would be meeting the expectation,’’ Maddox Jr. said. ‘‘It’s the first step toward the greatness we are pursuing. We feel we have something special planned. At the beginning of the year, we set our goals. The first was to win the Thanksgiving tournament; we did that. Now it is to win Pontiac.’’

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