Whether it be a put-back, a rebound or a clutch free throw in the closing minutes of a game, Bloom Township's Johnny Griffin has not missed a beat.
Bloom Township coach Jasper Williams has many times referred to his senior as "Our Johnny on the spot."
"It seems when we need a board or someone to make a play, Johnny is there and that is what a senior should do," Williams said. "He has that experience and he is one of those who just goes out and does it."
The 6-foot-3 Griffin is a three-year varsity regular and was a starter on last year's Class 4A fourth-place team. The Bloom Trail student is fairly quiet, but he is not afraid to speak up when needed.
"I know as a senior, I sometimes have to be more vocal, so I have made myself speak up," Griffin said. "When we lost those two games to Homewood-Flossmoor and Rich South, back-to-back, I had to tell the guys it would be OK. We will get better and not to worry."
The Blazing Trojans (25-3) have not lost in 2013. Their only other loss was to Marian Catholic in the McDipper championship.
"We had high expectations after last year (fourth in Class 4A) and we hit a little bump early," Griffin said. "We lost those three games by three points each. As a senior, I had to make sure we didn't get too down on ourselves and get ready to play. When we win, we have to make sure we don't get too confident."
The Blazing Trojans face Stagg at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in one semifinal of the Class 4A Thornton Sectional. A win could have them face Marian on Friday for the sectional championship.
"We know Stagg is a very good team and we have to take care of the ball" Griffin said. "We're pretty good, but we have to play hard and not let up."
Such was the case last week as the Blazing Trojans struggled against Thornwoood in one semifinal. The Blazing Trojans closed the game on a 12-0 run for a 51-36 win. Griffin had a key basket and rebound in the run.
"Johnny has improved a lot, too, on his free-throw shooting," Williams said. 'When he came up as a sophomore, he was like 40 percent from the line, but now, we are not worried or afraid to have him shoot free throws down the stretch."
He is now shooting better than 70 percent from the free-throw line.
Williams also likes how Griffin just leads by example.
Johnny is the first one usually to practice," Williams said. "You know that rubs off on the other guys. He stays after to work on his shot or free throws and then three or four other guys decided to stay too.
"That is what being a leader is about."