CHICAGO HEIGHTS | Anika Johnson may be one of eight sophomores on the Bloom Township girls basketball roster, but Johnson and her teammates aren't making any excuses for a 2-3 start to the 2013 campaign.
The Blazing Trojans fell 66-64 to Southland Athletic Conference foe Rich Central in overtime Wednesday night at Bloom Trail. Johnson scored 19 points and added 14 rebounds in the loss.
"In the overtime, we came unglued and weren't really boxing out or rebounding like we were at first," Johnson said. "Our age shouldn't be an excuse with our effort. Being small, we always have to work hard. We want to prove that we can out-rebound anyone."
Danielle King added 21 points and five steals for the Blazing Trojans (2-3, 0-1).
After holding a one-point halftime lead, Bloom Township trailed by as many as 10 in the final quarter before mounting a rally.
King hit a 3-pointer as time expired to send the game into overtime. In the extra period, the Blazing Trojans were unable to capitalize at the free-throw line. Trailing by one, King went to the line with seven seconds remaining but missed the second shot after tying the game with the first attempt.
"We have to make the free throws; that's what the bottom line is," Bloom Township coach Ron Newquist said. "If she makes the free throw, we're not in that position. Then they have to take it out of bounds and we can pressure them."
Rich Central's Tayana Wilson then took the ball coast to coast for the game-winning field goal as time expired. The Blazing Trojans were unable to find an answer for Wilson, who finished with a game-high 34 points.
"We had two girls back to get in the help line to stop the ball or take the charge," Newquist said. "And neither one of them did. I have eight sophomores on the team. They need to mature, and we're trying to get them to get a good basketball IQ. Instead of stepping up, they got scared, they didn't want to foul her and moved out of the way."
Newquist knows there will be a learning curve this season with his young sophomores, and he is looking for more consistency from his young team.
"What I don't like so far is we turn it off and we turn it on," Newquist said. "It's like a switch. We start walking on offense, we're not talking on defense. Communication on defense is our biggest problem. What I do like, is they're working hard, and when we get the ball in transition, we're very hard to stop."