HARVEY | Lejavius Johnson and the Bloom Township boys basketball team wanted to jump all over Thornton early and once they had the Wildcats down, the Blazing Trojans wanted to keep them down.
Johnson and teammates were able to do that on their way to a 58-47 victory over the Wildcats. Johnson scored 16 and added five rebounds. Teammate Donald Moore finished the game with 14 points for the Times No. 1 Blazing Trojans. The Wildcats were able to get into their offense and start hitting shots in the second half, but they were never able to cut the lead to single digits.
"We wanted to put our foot on their throats from the beginning," Johnson said. "In the second half we got kind of sloppy too so we're not too proud of this win but overall we're just happy we got the 'W'."
Johnny Griffin had a strong day on the boards for the Blazing Trojans (23-3) bringing down 11 rebounds. Moore was able to hit two big threes early in the game, and after leading by eight at the end of one, Bloom was able to open up a 15 point lead at the half.
"We knew this was a rivalry game," Moore said. "We just wanted to get on them early and keep up the lead and hopefully get everybody in the game and get into our bench."
The Wildcats (10-13) were unable to match the intensity of the Blazing Trojans early and were never comfortable in the role of playing catch up. Bloom outshot the Wildcats 27 to 9 from the free-throw line, hitting 21-of-27 attempts.
"That's kind of been the story of our season," Thornton coach Troy Jackson said of the Wildcats' game of catch-up. "We struggled to get back in the game and we made it a little bit respectable at the end but it was too big of a mountain to climb at the end of the game."
At halftime, former Thornton coach Sam Cameli was honored. He coached the Wildcats from 1982-1994 and made two trips to the Class AA state tournament.