Boys Basketball: This time, Rich South beats Bloom
Updated: January 6, 2012 9:16PM
What a difference a week made for Rich South.
After absorbing a 69-51 defeat to Bloom on Dec. 28 at McDipper 39, the Stars turned the tables on the McDipper champion Friday night.
Trailing 46-45 and with two seconds remaining in regulation, Rich South called a timeout.
Coach Scot Ritter drew up an inbounds play the Stars had never used before.
But when Ritter saw Bloom’s defensive alignment, he had second thoughts and instead chose a more familiar play for his squad.
It was a game-altering decision.
Ralph Abraham lobbed a perfect inbounds pass from under the Bloom basket to a charging Marquell Small in the lane.
The 6-foot-3 senior converted the layup to give Rich South an exciting 47-46 win over the No. 3 Blazing Trojans in Chicago Heights.
The victory kept the Stars, now 14-4 overall, perfect in the Southland Conference at 3-0. Bloom fell to 13-1 and 2-1.
“I saw their alignment and I bailed on the play at the last second and decided to go with something we practiced all the time,” Ritter said. “It was the right call, but it was lucky.”
Small had no doubt the last-second change would work.
“When I saw how they were lined up, I knew I was going to be wide open,” said Small, who finished with 13 points, including a highlight-reel tip-slam in the first quarter. “We just had to put it away.”
Rich South enjoyed five-point leads on two occasions: 18-13 early in the second quarter and 33-28 in the opending stages of the third period.
The Stars, however, never could land the knockout blow and allowed Bloom to remain within striking distance.
“We would get on a good roll, but we let them back in a couple of times,” Ritter said. “I really liked how we came out with more energy than when we played them at the McDipper.”
Bloom could have put the game away in the final minutes. But Johnny Griffin (8 points), with the Blazing Trojans ahead 46-43, missed two free throws with 1:07 left on the clock. Then, with the score 46-45, Bloom coughed the ball up with 17 seconds remaining.
L.J. Johnson led Bloom with 14 points, 10 coming in the second half. The Blazing Trojans finished 19-of-35 from the field and just 7-of-15 from the free-throw line.
John Ruffin tied Small with team-high scoring honors with 13 and pulled down 10 boards. Cedric Russell added seven for the Stars, who shot 19-of-34 from the field and 8-of-13 from the stripe.