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Bloom's Zerrell Jackson (hold plaque) celebrates with his teammates after defeating Lincoln-Way North for the Class 4A Regional Championship at Thornwood, Friday, March 1st, 2013 in South Holland. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Johnny Griffin was the best player on the floor Friday night, netting 18 points and nine rebounds as Bloom outlasted Lincoln-Way North 54-47 for the Class 4A Thornwood Regional championship.
Griffin went 6-of-10 from the floor, splashed two buckets via offensive rebounds and threw down a third-quarter dunk on an alley-oop from Dejahown Freeman.
“Johnny’s the leader, Johnny’s the captain, Johnny’s the three-year starter,” Bloom coach Jasper Williams said. “So we’re going to need more from Johnny (moving forward).
“We haven’t seen the best from Johnny Griffin yet.”
That’s a scary thought for future opponents, the next of which is Stagg on Wednesday in a Thornton Sectional semifinal.
Griffin sparked Bloom’s relentless defensive pressure, which took away Lincoln-Way North’s transition game and forced the Phoenix (20-9) into contested shots.
Freeman — with a heavily bandaged right hand — came off the bench to score nine points, Jared Johnson added eight and Zerell Jackson netted seven for Bloom (25-3).
“Their man-to-man defense is so intense. They pressure the heck out of the ball and they’re in the passing lanes so it’s hard to penetrate gaps against them,” North coach John Terry said.
Darryle Morgan led North with 18 points, 12 of which came in the fourth quarter to keep the game close. Tre Lewis added 12 points for the Phoenix.
Bloom held a double-digit lead for much of the second half, but Morgan scored five points in a 53-second stretch to cut Bloom’s lead 49-44 to with 45 seconds left.
“We’ve been through a lot of close games this year so we knew how to handle the pressure,” Griffin said.
North used a 1-2-2 zone for the first three quarters of the game, but Bloom capitalized early with five first-quarter three-pointers, taking a 19-12 lead after one.
The zone also contributed to an immense disparity on the glass, with Bloom outrebounding North 31-17.