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Bloom had a lot of people to honor before the start of its nonconference matchup against longtime neighborhood rival Thornton. First off it, was senior night, in which all the senior cheerleaders and the six senior basketball players were honored.
Then there was Bloom coach Jasper Williams, who is retiring after 10 years at the school. Longtime assistant Pete McGuire, who was inducted to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2012, will also retire after 40 years of coaching in District 206.
Williams and the No. 12 Blazing Trojans are having another typical season filled with success. They are one win away from a conference title and after a 46-33 win over the Wildcats (11-10) Tuesday night, the Trojans (21-3) are hoping to send Williams off on a high note with a long run through the Class 4A state playoffs.
“This means more to the seniors who have put fours years into the program and I’m just happy we won the game tonight,” said Williams, whose team has two more regular season games left at Crete-Monee and Kankakee. “I’m really happy with the seniors.
“Coach McGuire is a legend. Anything we need to work on he comes up with a drill for it.”
The Trojans were up 15-12 early in the second when they went on a 6-0 run that was capped by a steal by Zerrell Jackson at half court. Jackson drove to the hoop heavily defended and some how flipped a one handed alley-oop pass to a trailing Johnny Griffin who slammed it home for a 21-12 lead.
Bloom led 27-19 at the break and 33-31 after three. After the Wildcats pulled within 34-33, the Trojans responded with a game-ending 12-0 run.
“I’ve learned a lot in four years and I was able to get better” said Griffin, who finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds. “We wanted to come out from the start and get out on them. We know their reputation and what they can do.”
Fellow senior Jataryn Dejareaux added 10 points and 19 rebounds for the Trojans. Justin Taylor and Jamani Pierce had eight each for the Wildcats.
“Jasper is a great guy and we started coaching in grade school against each other,” Thornton coach Troy Jackson said. “He was in [District] 132 and I was 147. He’s a credit to the game and a great role model for the kids. We are going to sorely miss him.”