SOUTH HOLLAND | Sometimes a close game will wake up a team like a bucket of cold water in the face.
That is what No. 2 seed Bloom Township is hoping as it got a wake-up call Tuesday in one semifinal of the Class 4A Thornwood Regional.
The Blazing Trojans got it together in the fourth quarter for a 51-36 win against upset-minded Thornwood and play in Friday's title game against the winner of tonight's Lincoln-Way North-Minooka game.
For 3 1/2 quarters, No. 16 seed Thornwood (13-15) gave the Blazing Trojans (24-3) all they could handle. The Thunderbirds closed to 39-36 on a Robert Blissitt Jr. basket with 5 minutes, 32 seconds left. Bloom looked disoriented and coach Jasper Williams called a timeout with 4:52 left. The Blazing Trojans closed the game with a 12-0 run.
"Coach told us to slow it down and play our game," Bloom senior Johnny Griffin said. "We did not play very well the first half and third quarter. We just got it together and played hard."
Griffin finished with 10 points, while James Coleman led the Blazing Trojans with 11 points. Zerell Jackson and Dejahown Freeman had eight points each.
Williams said his team did not come out strong despite taking a 13-2 lead. It got into foul trouble and went to a 2-3 zone in the second quarter.
"We just were not in the flow," Williams said. "We played much better in the second half than the first half. The first half, we left our feet and got into foul trouble. I think they were in the double bonus with about four minutes (3:42) left in the second quarter."
Thornwood forced five second-quarter turnovers and made 8 of 11 first-half free-throw attempts. Donte Thomas took control as he had 18 points — 10 in the first half — as Bloom took a 32-25 halftime lead.
"Our defense is what got us back into and kept us in the game," Thomas said. "We made a run, but they got control at the end. We tried and we played hard."
"Thornwood fought hard and give them credit," Williams said. "We didn't play well, but we are also a senior-oriented team and this shouldn't happen. We are going to have to play better if we are to advance in the tournament."