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Bloom Township's Mariah Middleton (right) shoots over a swatting Rich South's Dasia Evans (left) during a girls varsity basketball game on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. | John Smierciak~for Sun-Times Media ORG XMIT: GBKbloom-STS-012513-2
The fourth quarter of Thursday’s showdown against Rich South was a painful one for Bloom sophomore Danielle King.
Twice during the period she crumpled to the ground and had to hobble to the bench with banged up knees.
In between, however, the 5-foot-5 guard put a bigger hurt on her opponents, leading the Blazing Trojans to a 55-41 victory in Chicago Heights.
Katherine Strong totaled 20 points, Bria Gaines scored 15 points to go with her 13 rebounds, and King added 15 points as Bloom (17-6, 8-0) moved another step closer to the school’s first Southland Athletic Conference title.
Tierra Webb had 12 points and Tierney Lockett seven for No. 25 Rich South, which fell to 17-5, 6-2.
With No. 17 Bloom leading by just three points entering the final eight minutes, King went into hyper speed, driving the lane three times to help the Blazing Trojans pull away. She finished the quarter with eight points, one more than Rich South managed as a team.
“It was just clock management, seeing the gaps and going to the hole and attacking,” said King, a transfer from Rich East who is averaging 13.7 points and 4.4 assists.
“Danielle works really hard. We try to motivate each other as much as we can,” said Gaines, who had just four points at the half, but was a disruption to the Stars defensively. After King’s kick-start, Gaines scored seven points down the stretch to put the game away.
Another standout for Bloom in the victory was sophomore Katherine Strong. With the game tied at 10-10 after one quarter, Strong went on a 16-point binge in the second period. Among her baskets were three three-pointers. She also contributed a three-point play as the Blazing Trojans opened up a 29-22 lead at intermission.
“I was just taking what my team gave me,” Strong said. “I was open, and took the shots confident liked I worked on them at practice.”
Rich South, meanwhile, never really found a rhythm. The Stars had a brief flurry near the end of the third quarter, knocking a 37-29 deficit down to 37-34 with two free throws by Lockett and a three-pointer by CiErra Garrett. But they would make just 1 of their final 12 shots.
“We did what we wanted to do, we just let some opportunities slip through our hands,” Rich South coach Brian Mays said. “We had a game plan, they had a game plan, and I guess the lesser amount of mistakes won out.”