A nine-point first-half deficit in a low-scoring game.

Double-, triple- and even quadruple-teams thrown at star Bria Gaines.

A stingy Lincoln-Way East team in no rush to get off a shot.

Frustration? Oh, yes.

With Bloom’s first regional title since 1999 on the line, Blazing Trojans coach Ron Newquist challenged his team.

“You either want to win your school’s first regional title in 14 years or you don’t,” Newquist said. “It’s all about defense. If we play defense, we win games.”

Behind a dominant second-half defensive effort, Bloom prevailed 41-34 over host Lincoln-Way East in a Class 4A regional final.

Bloom (21-6) advances to play Marian Catholic on Tuesday in a Mother McAuley Sectional semifinal. Lincoln-Way East closed at 20-9.

“I would have never dreamed of this my freshman year,” Gaines said. “We slacked early (Thursday), but we had to come out and play great defense and finish out the game.”

Gaines gutted out 11 points and 14 rebounds against a collapsing, aggressive East defense. Danielle King (12 points) and Katherine Strong (10) also contributed for Bloom. Claire McMahon (11 points), Meaghan McMahon (9), and Kara Krolicki (8) led East.

A patient East team ran its offense in the first half to the tune of a 21-12 lead late in the second period while throwing triple- and quadruple-teams at Gaines.

Bloom flipped the switch defensively in the second half, limiting East to 13 points (on 3-of-12 shooting) and forcing eight turnovers. The Trojans took the lead for good at 29-28 on a Gaines putback with 6:50 left in the fourth.

King added two buckets, and Bloom hit 6-of-10 free throws in the frame to ice the game.

“We’ve been down at halftime before, and we had to come out with more intensity,” King said. “Play our game and be patient on offense.”

The loss snapped a five-year streak of regional titles for East.

“We played very smart in the first half, but we didn’t handle the ball well in the second,” Griffins coach Jim Martin said. “What a great effort. We had a good year, and I feel like we earned a lot of respect this year.”