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Bloom's Danielle King fights up a shot after drawing contact from Hillcrest's Dana Gettis Friday in the championship game of the Hillcrest Holiday Classic. Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
Bloom senior Bria Gaines was the tournament Most Valuable Player.
Bloom sophomore Danielle King? She was the Queen of Clutch for the Blazing Trojans in Friday night’s 73-69 championship game victory over the host Hawks at the 34th Hillcrest Holiday Classic.
With the game tied at 69 and 27.6 seconds remaining, King drew a foul and hit both ends of a 1-and-1. With 7.7 seconds remaining, she made a steal, was fouled and hit another freebie.
On Hillcrest’s final chance to tie, she teamed with Chantel Malone to smother Hawks scoring threat Dana Gettis, forcing her to step out of bounds. Fouled once again, King went 1-of-2.
Can’t get more clutch than that.
“It was just about focusing on the game and not letting the pressure get to me,” a smiling King said. “It was about wanting it, becoming a clutch player and being able to pull it through for our team.”
King finished with 15 points, Gaines 22 points and 17 rebounds and Katherine Strong 14 points as the No. 8 Blazing Trojans improved to 12-4. Gettis topped all scorers with 37 points, while Mariam Awoniyi added 16 points and nine rebounds for No. 6 Hillcrest (11-3).
Hillcrest threatened to run away early, opening an 18-8 edge. But sloppy plays during the final minute of the first quarter allowed Bloom to score twice on a bank-in by Strong and a layup by Jailyn Lumpkin.
Once the No. 24 Blazing Trojans caught up, they stayed there in a back-and-forth battle. The jaw-dropping play of the game occurred at the third-quarter buzzer, when Lumpkin swished a 30-foot desperation bomb.
The Hawks trailed 67-62 with three minutes remaining when they made their push for victory, scoring three times in succession. Awoniyi banked one in before Gettis drove for a layup, made a steal and drove for another three-point play.
With 2:03 left, Strong hit two free throws for Bloom to tie it up, setting the stage for King’s late heroics.
Gaines earned tournament MVP honors with 84 points and 51 rebounds over four games, walking away a little taller than 6-foot-2.
“Yeah, I feel pretty big, but I always have to go back to my teammates,” Gaines said. “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to get the ball and play the way I do.
“This was one of our goals, to actually come in and win the Hillcrest tournament. It’s only one of our goals for this year, but we accomplished it.
“And I want to say that Hillcrest did a great job.”
Stagg 47, No. 9 Rich South 35: Casey McMahon (11 points, 7 rebounds), Hannah Henderson (10 points), Ali Conrad (7 points, 8 rebounds) and Revi McMahon (7 points) stepped up as Stagg (9-3) finished third. Tierra Webb scored 16 points for Rich South (13-4).
Sandburg 51, Tinley Park 26: Rachel Ruzevich (12 points) and Carly Katalinic (9 points) led the way as Sandburg (8-8) claimed fifth place. Tinley Park (11-6) was led by Samantha Alberto (8 points).
Oak Forest 56, Phillips 55: Oak Forest (8-8) won the consolation championship as Gianna Kuras scored 11 points and Kelly McEathron, Maddie Baxa and Taylor Sterkowitz all had seven.
Seton 43, Harlan 40: Desiree Jackson had eight points, Ebony Bailey and Tiffany Ellis seven each as Seton (9-7) won the third-place game.
T.F. North 56, Queen of Peace 38: Taisha Johnson had 14 points and Tyra Johnson 13 to lead T.F. North to fifth place. Hannah Lipman scored eight points for Queen of Peace (8-9).