HARVEY | When Stagg cut Bloom Township's lead to 37-34 with just over five minutes left in the game, it appeared as if the Class 4A Thornton Sectional semifinal was about to get interesting.
But Blazing Trojans big man Johnny Griffin didn't let that happen. Griffin scored six straight and Bloom Township scored eight straight to hold on for a 52-41 win.
Bloom Township held Stagg without a field goal in the final five minutes of the game until Stagg hit a 3- pointer with 12 seconds remaining and the game out of reach.
"The last four minutes of the game we just took our time and executed," Griffin said. "Our coach always tells us that each team is going to have their run. We just have to be ready to overcome their run and make up with a run of our own, and that's what we did."
Bloom Township, which won its 16th straight game, built an early lead, but a pesky Stagg team kept hanging around. The Blazing Trojans took a 34-28 lead into the half and still held the six point lead after three quarters.
"Defense is us," Blazing Trojans coach Jasper Williams said. "Man to man defense. It's not very hard to prepare for Bloom High School. We had an idea of what they were going to do and who they were going to look for."
After Stagg cut the Bloom lead to three with 5:03 remaining, Griffin took over. The high-low game of Bloom Township opened up and Griffin scored six of his game high 20 down the stretch.
"Really I think we just settled down towards the end," Griffin said. "Focus on defending, and stop letting them drive in the lanes, and start boxing out more. It ended up going well for us."
Jared Johnson added 13 points and five rebounds for the Blazing Trojans. Bloom Township was able to win the battle of the boards, outrebounding Stagg 21-11.
The win sets up an all-Chicago Heights final as the Blazing Trojans (26-3) face Marian Catholic (27-3) at 7:30 p.m. today for the championship. Marian handed Bloom its last loss, 61-58 in the McDipper championship on Dec. 29.
"They got us at the McDipper but we're looking forward to it," Williams said of tonight's rematch. "Hopefully just come out and play a good game."