Emondrek Erkins-Ford, Bloom clamp down defensively, beat Thornton

Emondrek Erkins-Ford is still looking for his first Division I offer. If the long and athletic Bloom senior keeps playing the way he did Friday, it may come sooner rather than later.

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Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Emondrek Erkins-Ford is still looking for his first Division I offer.

If the long and athletic Bloom senior keeps playing the way he did on Friday, it may come sooner rather than later.

Matched up against Illinois recruit Ty Rodgers and No. 10 Thornton, Erkins-Ford scored a game-high 14 points in Bloom’s 49-48 Southland win in Harvey.

“It was real intense,” Erkins-Ford said. “I just like competing against one of the top players in the country.

“I can’t stop smiling. I lost my voice and all.”

Erkins-Ford showed off a complete game, adding three rebounds, seven blocks and a three-pointer in a game of runs.

“He’s probably one of the best unsigned seniors left as far as shot-blocking, as far as being a stretch-4 type of player,” Bloom coach Dante Maddux said. 

“He continually blocks shots and alters shots. ... When he plays with a motor like this, it really helps our team.”

“Going up against Ty Rodgers, I just felt like that really brought out the best in me,” said Erkins-Ford, who’s 6-8.

Bloom (5-2, 2-0) had an 11-0 surge en route to a 28-25 halftime lead and a 13-0 run to go up 41-30 after three quarters, But Rodgers, who didn’t take a shot in the second and third quarters, started asserting himself in the fourth to rally Thornton (4-2, 1-1).

Erkins-Ford hit one of two free throws with 17.2 seconds left to put Bloom up 49-48. Thornton had a chance to win, but Kelsey Tarver missed a dunk with time winding down and Bloom’s Raeshom Harris grabbed the rebound and dribbled out the clock.

Bloom also had 11 points off the bench from sophomore Gianni Cobb, who hit two big three-pointers at the end of the third quarter.

“This was the biggest game I’ve ever been in,” Cobb said. “All I wanted to do was ... pass the ball and make sure my team was involved.”

“Gianni is big-time,” Maddux said, “Gianni Cobb is somebody, in a couple years, people are going to talk about as soon as his mind matures with his game. ... He’s learning.

“Gianni could start for us. He’s humble enough to fill in his spot when we need it.”

Rodgers had a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds for Thornton.

“We needed him to be more selfish,” Thornton coach Tai Streets said. “He’s so unselfish by nature. But sometimes we just need him to [think], just take over this game.”

Montreal McCullough scored 13 points and Tarver had 11 for Thornton.

“Give Bloom credit, they came in here and won,” said Streets, who didn’t fault Tarver.

“It [doesn’t] come down to that play,” Streets said of the late missed shot. “We got down too much, we had to fight all the way back. ... He’ll make that 99 out of 100 times. But best not get in that position.

“I hate to lose more than anybody. But let’s get it over with now hopefully.”

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