NORMAL | Bloom Township coach Jasper Williams says the game plan will be pretty basic for the Blazing Trojans when they step on the floor for this weekend's Illinois Class 4A state finals in Peoria.
"We'll show up and we'll play Bloom basketball, which is defense and rebounding," Williams said.
Both were on display in abundance in Tuesday night's 53-41 Class 4A Supersectional victory over Edwardsville at Redbird Arena.
The Trojans outrebounded Edwardsville 34-22 and limited the Tigers to their second lowest point total of the year.
"We've been hanging our hats on our defense," Williams said. "I've seen a lot of basketball in my 25 or 26 years of coaching and this is one of the best team defenses I've seen."
Senior guard Lejavius Johnson paced the Trojans with nine rebounds and drilled a 3-point bucket late in the first quarter to give Bloom a 10-7 lead.
A second quarter outburst by the Trojans saw Bloom outscore Edwardsville to take a 19-7 lead at intermission.
"The key was to get used to the surroundings, playing in a different environment," said standout senior Donald Moore, who led Bloom's offense with 15 points and five assists. "In the second quarter we just started knocking down shots and everybody got in the groove."
Junior forward Johnny Griffin added 13 points for the Trojans.
For the game, Bloom shot 51.4 percent (18-of-35) from the field, including 4-of-7 from beyond the 3-point line.
Edwardsville (24-6) was held to 30.4 percent shooting with Tre Harris and Garrett Covington, both 6-foot-5 juniors, each scoring 16 points to account for 32 of Tigers' points.
Bloom improved its record to 28-3 and will face Simeon at 8:15 p.m. Friday in the Class 4A semifinals at the Peoria Civic Center, marking the program's first trip to state since 2000 and its first in the four-class system.
"It feels real good to be going to the final four, doing something the school hasn't done in a long time (12 years)," Moore said. "This is what we've been working toward all summer and we finally reached our goal."