COUNTRY CLUB HILLS | Bloom Township's Bria Gaines will tell anyone who wants to listen that the Blazing Trojans are all about team.
Bloom Township turned in a total team performance on their way to a 73-69 victory over Hillcrest to win the 34th annual Hillcrest Holiday Classic. Gaines scored 22 points for the Blazing Trojans and brought down 18 boards. Gaines was named the tournament MVP for her play throughout the tournament.
"It's not about me, it's definitely about the team win," Gaines said. "I always have to go back to my teammates. If it wasn't for them I wouldn't be able to get the ball and play the way I do."
Blazing Trojans sophomore Danielle King scored 15 and came up with the game's biggest steal when she stole a Hillcrest pass with the host team trailing 71-69 with under 20 seconds remaining. King's two free throws just seven seconds earlier gave the Blazing Trojans the two point advantage. King was named to the all-tournament team following the win.
"I was anticipating the pass because I knew they were trying to get it to (Dana Gettis)," King said. "I was just trying to get the ball and hold it so we could get fouled and get the free throws."
Katherine Strong played a great all around game for Bloom Township finishing with 14 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Strong was 4 for 4 from the free throw line in the final three minutes of the game to help Bloom Township hold on for the title.
"We're trained for these moments," Bloom Township coach Ron Newquist said. "They're pressure players. I always tell them, ice water in your veins. Don't worry about making mistakes at the end, worry about succeeding at the end."
The Blazing Trojans (12-4) trailed 36-30 at the half, but a 24-12 third quarter put Bloom Township in position for the tournament title in just their first year participating in the Holiday Classic.
"Actually this was one of our goals," Gaines said. "To actually come in and win the Hillcrest tournament. This is only one of our goals for the year, but we accomplished it."