PARK FOREST | Bloom Township junior Jared Johnson fancies himself a shooter.
He was 0-for-2 before the last four seconds of regulation time Friday at Rich East.
Then, 30 feet from the basket and with the Blazing Trojans training by three points, he launched a high-arcing shot.
It found the basket. Tie game. Overtime.
Johnson was a half-step closer to the basket, again on the right side of the court, as the first overtime wound down. He launched another three-pointer. For the second time, swish.
Bloom used those two winged prayers as the takeoff point in its 68-66 double-overtime victory over the Rockets. It earned Bloom the lead in the Southland Conference with three league games left.
Bloom, which hosts Leo on Saturday afternoon, advanced to 18-3, 7-1. Rich East dropped to 12-6, 6-2.
The fiercely-played contest wasn't decided until Johnny Griffin dropped in a free-throw with a half-second left in the second extra session. Griffin, who scored a team-leading 15 points and played despite illness, scored four of them, including the basket that gave Bloom the lead for good, in the second overtime.
His rebound score with 1:45 to play gave Bloom the lead for good. It was the game's seventh lead-change to go with 11 ties.
"We wanted it more at the end," Griffin said. "In the last minutes, we executed better than they did."
Poise for either team was a rumor much of the night, but the Trojans played with confidence in the crunch.
"For three quarters, Rich East played harder than we did," Bloom coach Jasper Williams said.
"This reminds me of last year, when we had five games at the buzzer that we lost," Rich East coach George Leonard said. "The kid (Johnson) had to make two great shots, no question about it. And (the regulation-ending shot) was somewhat challenged."
Nick Horne, the Rockets' sparkplug, fouled out with 52.6 seconds left in the game, depriving them of his savvy play in the final critical minute. He finished with 17 points, leading Rich East. Center Ron Lawton added 15, but only one of those points came after regulation time. Brandon Cole added 10 for the Rockets.
The Rockets trudged off the floor. The Trojans exulted.
"I was just confident," Johnson said of his twin bombshells. "I'm a shooter. As long as I'm confident, I'll shoot."
On this night, for those two moments, confidence equaled success.