PEORIA | Bloom Township battled the odds by playing top-ranked Simeon even, but the Blazing Trojans couldn't overcome the biggest obstacle - Simeon's size - in falling 45-35 in one Class 4A semifinal at Carver Arena on Friday.
Bloom didn't earn a win, but earned the respect of Wolverines coach Robert Smith.
"I really thought we shouldn't have won the game," Smith said. "Bloom pushed us to the limit."
Simeon (32-1) has not lost to an Illinois team and will play undefeated Proviso East, a 55-45 winner over Rockford Auburn, tonight for the Class 4A title.
The Blazing Trojans (28-4) had their 13-game winning streak snapped and will play Rockford Auburn for third place.
The Blazing Trojans' Lejavius Johnson accounted for more than half of his team's points with 18. With Bloom struggling to go inside against 6-foot-8 twin towers Jabari Parker and Marquette recruit Steve Taylor, Johnson was open on the wing and made the best of it.
"I was getting open and my teammates were finding me," Johnson said. "I was open and had some good looks (at the basket)." He made his first four shots, including a 3-pointer.
One of the turning points was in the second quarter when Simeon finished the half with 15-3 run and scored the last seven points to take a 24-18 halftime lead. The Wolverines took advantage of some Bloom turnovers and Kendrick Nunn drilled a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left in the half.
"We kind of lost our focus," Bloom coach Jasper Williams said. "We started expanding our defense a little too far and their big guys got inside.
"Those 3-4 minutes were the key to the game."
Simeon outrebounded the Blazing Trojans 31-22 and frustrated their inside game said Donald Moore, who was just 2-of-12 from the field.
"It was very frustrating because I was getting bumped and no calls," Moore said. "They let us play, but I was kind of hoping to get to the free-throw line like I usually do."
Bloom was 1-of-5 from the line while Simeon was 17-22.
The Blazing Trojans battled back as Moore hit a 3-pointer with 2 minutes, 29 seconds left to bring his team within 38-36, but Parker converted a three-point play as the Wolverines started to pull away.
Dejahiwn Freeman finished with nine points and Moore with five.
Jaylon Tate led Simeon with 11 points. Parker had 10 points, while Steve Taylor had nine points and 13 points.