LOCKPORT | The third time was the charm -- just as the first and second times had been.
Two previous victories over Homewood-Flossmoor this season didn't automatically make Bloom Township the favorite to capture the Class 4A Lockport Sectional championship Friday night.
Nor did the Blazing Trojans' No. 1 seeding.
What got them through was another dose of their hard-nosed defense, plus a cool-as-a-cucumber display by Donald Moore at the foul line. While Bloom went without a field goal over the last eight minutes and had only two to its credit for the entire second half, Moore made sure that lack of offensive punch didn't bring harm to his team.
Moore sank 12-of-13 free throws in the fourth period, part of an 18-of-20 exhibition by the senior guard on the night, which ensured the Blazing Trojans of more basketball this season. Despite several challenges from the Vikings, Bloom secured a 43-32 victory.
The Blazing Trojans (27-3) will face Edwardsville in Tuesday's Normal Supersectional.
"I feel elated for our student-athletes," Bloom coach Jasper Williams said. "They just refused to lose."
Williams wasn't surprised by Moore's game-saving performance at the stripe.
"That's what we expect from Donald," he said.
Moore produced the Blazing Trojans' final eight points, which enabled them to hold off H-F (22-8). The Vikings never erased all of what had once been a 13-point deficit, but they did close to within 31-29 on a pair of Tyrone Sherman free throws.
However, H-F misfired nine times from the field in the last 2:48 and finished the night hitting just 11-of-49 shots.
"We couldn't put the ball in the hole," Vikings coach Jim McLaughlin said. "And we had some good looks. The problem is we played 16 minutes out of 32. You can't play two (good) quarters of basketball and expect to win a sectional."
H-F led 8-6 after one period, but a 12-2 run sparked by a pair of Lejavius Johnson 3-point baskets and Moore's 3-point play put Bloom in front for good.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game," Moore said. "People always talk about the third time being the charm, but we could not let that happen (for the Vikings)."
Moore wound up with 20 points, while Johnson totaled 11 for the Blazing Trojans. Tim Williams topped H-F with 11 points.
"Hats off to Bloom," McLaughlin said. "They're a quality program and they do things the right way."