CHICAGO HEIGHTS | When you're short on size but loaded with athletes, an up and down game is exactly what you’d expect. But that wasn’t the plan for Bloom Township Tuesday night.
After running with Hales Franciscan for the first five minutes of their Chicago Heights Classic matchup, the Blazing Trojans found themselves on the short end of a 14-8 score.
“Coach told us to slow things down,” Jared Johnson said. “We were going at their pace in the beginning, after we fell behind we played with more control and started getting them off their feet to get open shots and open lanes to the basket.”
Getting the tempo under control was the key for Bloom Township (2-0) which went on a 19-4 run to seize the momentum and control the rest of the contest.
“We knew we’d see a run and jump style from Hales,” Bloom Township coach Ron Ashlaw said. “We just told them to stay aware, if your man leaves to go trap you have to come to the ball and help. You have to be strong in the trap and make a good pass, once the passes were on the money it opened up things down the floor.”
Despite being the smaller team, the Blazing Trojans were able to work the ball inside and take advantage of their athleticism against the Spartans (1-1).
The Bloom Township starting front court of Johnson, James Coleman, and Mickhiell Harris combined for 45 points and 26 rebounds led by Johnson's 18 point, nine rebound effort.
The Spartans made a run of their own in the fourth to cut the lead to four at 45 – 41 with six minutes to play but Johnson had the answer, getting 7 points, four rebounds, and four assists in the final five minutes.
“Scoring is great but getting the assists is much better,” Johnson said. “We hoped to come out strong tonight and we did. We moved the ball well in the fourth and got a lot of open looks.”
Hales would get no closer for the rest of the game as Johnson and company tightened the screws defensively and crashed the defensive boards to seal the win.
Although not the biggest man on the court, Johnson seemed to be everywhere in the fourth quarter, coming up with big plays every time Bloom Township needed one.
“We challenged Jared to be the best rebounding wing in the south suburbs this year,” Ashlaw said. “He has all the tools to be that kind of player, he’s fast and athletic we just told him to be aware of where the shot comes from and anticipate where it will come off the rim.”