Bloom Township's Jared Johnson is looking forward to tonight's matchup with favored Marian Catholic in one semifinal of the Class 4A Thornton Sectional.
The two schools play at 7 p.m. today and are just a few miles apart. Johnson said everybody knows everybody, and not just on the two teams.
"We know the Thornwood and H-F guys pretty well, too," Johnson said. "We play in the summer and I think you got a pretty even (sectional)."
While Marian (26-2) is the top seed, for Bloom (19-8) anything can happen and did Friday as No. 6 seed Homewood-Flossmoor stunned No. 3 seed Thornton to win the Class 4A Lincoln-Way West Regional.
H-F (16-11) will play No. 2 seed Thornwood (24-4) at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Marian beat all three of the other teams in the Chicago Heights Classic in November and topped Bloom 79-73 for the title. Homewood-Flossmoor beat Thornwood 78-63 in the first game of the season.
When the two Chicago Heights schools line up, expect an old-fashioned game at the historic Thornton gym.
"(Marian's) Terrone (Parham) and Ezra (Pointer-Jones) are on my AAU team (Illinois Wolverines), so we are pretty good friends," said Johnson, whose Bloom teammate, James Coleman, is also on the Wolverines team.
"So it will be fun to go up against them because we know how good they are," Johnson said. "We want to win and it is a rivalry, but a friendly one."
All five players from each team can be a playmaker.
"You know with Tyler Ulis, he is outstanding and he will get his points, but he gets everyone involved," Johnson said. "Terrone, John Oliver, (Ki-Jana) Crawford and (Josh) Cohn can hurt you at anytime.
"You cannot shut down one guy. Same with us."
Point guard Zerell Jackson makes the Bloom offense go, but the Blazing Trojans have weapons in Coleman on the boards, and Johnson, who can shoot the 3 or go to the basket. Mickhiell Harris and Dalvon Echols have given opponents fits too.
Parham said it will be a good game between two good teams. Like his Bloom opponent, there is no trash talking.
"We are very competitive on the court and we want to beat each other," Parham said. "We both are good teams and have good players. I know we will have to play a good game, good defense to beat them.
"I know Jared and James real well from AAU, so I know how good they are."
Homewood-Flossmoor's Tai Odiase didn't let a broken nose stop him and he has played without his mask.
"I just didn't like it and I feel better playing without it," Odiase said.
He also knows Thornwood will be looking to avenge a season-opening loss.
They are a very good team," Odiase said after the Vikings beat Thornton on Friday. "We are on a little roll and we just have to keep doing what we have been."
Thornwood's Rashaad Alexander said the Thunderbirds learned from their season-opening loss to the Vikings. Thornwood has won 15 straight and is undefeated in 2014.
"We knew we had to pick up our defense and not let Tai (Odiase) get inside," Alexander said. "We have to have good guard play Wednesday and not let them get inside. They are a very good team."
His coach, Paul Slavich agreed.
"They have 11 losses, but that is deceiving," Slavich said. "About five or six of those they lost by four points or less. We did not play well against them the first time and improved since then, but we have to play hard to beat them."