STEGER | It was kind of special Friday night at Bloom Trail High School.
It was the first boys basketball contest at the school since the 1994-95 season and all 2,500 seats were filled, though hardly anyone used the bleachers as most fans spent most of the night on their feet.
You could almost see Gary Meyer coaching from the home team's bench. Meyer was the last coach at Bloom Trail, then became Bloom Township's coach when Bloom and Bloom Trail high schools consolidated their athletic programs. He took the Trail Blazers to the 1988 Class AA Elite Eight and Bloom Township Blazing Trojans to the the 2000 Class AA Elite Eight.
Bloom Township assistant coach Pete McGuire, who coached at Trail in the 1970s and 1980s, was there, as was Crete-Monee assistant Al Hutton, who played at Bloom Trail.
Meyer was not here for this special event, but who is to blame him? He is in Florida and he made a good coaching decision to stay south.
Bloom Trail principal Joe Schimmel, a Bloom Trail grad, spearheaded the effort and said he will try to have at least one game a year at the corner of Sauk Trail and Cottage Grove Avenue. Bloom Township coach Jasper Strong didn't mind it either.
"Nine of our 13 kids are from Trail, so it was nice for them to have a home game," Williams said. "It was good to play here and we had a good crowd come out to support us."
Past Bloom Trail players and cheerleaders were honored at halftime, including special mention of the 1988 team. It is kind of nice to not forget Bloom Trail's program. While the school is not as old as Bloom, it had a great sports history in its 20-plus years in prep sports.
This year's Blazing Trojans are having a good year. The Times No. 1 team is 15-2 overall and 2-1 in the Southland Athletic Conference. Friday's win against No. 2 Crete-Monee was a big one because it was a team it beat just two weeks ago. The two will meet in February in Crete and could meet again in the Class 4A tournament. Last year, Crete-Monee won all four meetings between the two rivals.
This was a game which was like the Jan. 6 game against Rich South. The Blazing Trojans topped the Stars in the championship of the McDipper, then lost by a point in the first conference meeting between the two.
"We know the conference; there will be no easy games," Williams said. "Look at the Dipper, the McDipper, we went 1-2-3 (Bloom Townsip, Crete-Monee and Rich South). That says a lot about the conference."
Bloom Township is getting better play from its inside people like Johnny Griffin -- who had 14 points and three steals -- Nyrhee Mitchell and Jataryan Dejaraux. That is a great complement to guards Donald Moore and Henry Hicks.
"Coach McGuire is doing a good job with them," Williams said. "I kid Pete, telling him he's got to do some work. But I am just kidding."
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