CRETE | None of Dejahown Freeman’s missed shots were as impactful as his last.
Bloom’s senior guard air balled a 3-pointer with four seconds to go in a tie ballgame Friday night, but his errant shot landed in the hands of an unguarded Zerell Jackson. Jackson then calmly turned the rebound into a game-winning layup with .3 seconds remaining as Bloom outlasted Crete-Monee 52-50 in a Southland Athletic Conference thriller at Crete.
It was a happy ending to a rough night for Jackson, who tallied eight points but shot just 4-of-13 from the floor. Still, it was his last bucket that mattered most.
“I was just thinking ‘follow the ball, follow the ball,’” Jackson said. “Getting the opportunity to grab that board and make that last shot made the rest of the night mean nothing. We got the win, that matters most.”
Freeman’s timely miss was a small blemish on an otherwise impressive night. He scored a game high 20 points, including a solid 4-of-5 from the free throw line during a crucial fourth quarter for Bloom (22-3, 8-1). But he was quick to turn all praise to Jackson.
“I was happy to take the last shot, but even happier that I had a great teammate there to pick up my miss,” Freeman said. “It was a great team win.”
Crete-Monee (16-8, 4-5) led 37-33 after three quarters of play, and 44-38 with 4:31 remaining before the Blazing Trojans made a move. Bloom went on a 12-6 run to finish the game, started by Jataryan Dejareaux’s pair of free throws at the 4:11 mark.
The Warriors managed to tie the contest twice in the final minutes, the last time coming on Marvie Keith’s two free throws with 1:10 left to play. But the Trojans managed to milk the rest of the clock before Jackson’s game winner sealed it.
Crete-Monee coach Tom Cappel expressed frustration after the game, as Jackson was left virtually unguarded before his rebound and put back. On the night, the Warriors were outrebounded 27-19 and took a hit in the post when 6-foot, 4-inch forward Laquon Treadwell fouled out with nearly four minutes left in the game.
“We just weren’t getting rebounds when we needed them, and somehow we left (Jackson) alone to get that rebound,” the second-year coach said. “I thought we played well for most of the game, and our kids played their hearts out, but it’s the little things like rebounding that are going to decide games like this one.”
Keith finished with 17 points to lead the Warriors. Mark Conner and Treadwell scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Bloom’s victory gave it eight-straight conference wins and a three-game sweep of Crete-Monee this season.
Trojans coach Jasper Williams said that getting big victories in conference play has revealed a lot about his team.
“It doesn’t always happen consistently for four quarters, but when these kids come out and play with a team mentality, we’ve proven that good things can happen for us,” Williams said. “Tonight, we distributed the ball and took smart shots after we moved the ball around, and we played winning basketball because of it.”