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Boys Basketball: Johnny Griffin leads Bloom past pesky Stagg

Bloom's Jared Johnsscores over Stagg's Max Strus. | Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

Bloom's Jared Johnson scores over Stagg's Max Strus. | Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 9, 2013 11:34AM



Bloom forward Johnny Griffin clearly was frustrated at times during Thursday night’s Class 4A Thornton Sectional semifinal against Stagg.

After a relentless Chargers squad cut the deficit to 36-34, Griffin knew it was time to get focused.

The 6-foot-4 senior scored the next seven points of the game, two coming off a nifty baseline jam, and lifted Bloom to a 52-41 win over Stagg in Harvey.

Bloom (27-3) advances to play Marian Catholic, its Chicago Heights neighborhood rival, at 7:30 p.m. Friday for the sectional title.

“I was getting frustrated,” said Griffin, who finished with a game-high 20 points. “I wasn’t getting many calls and I missed a few shots. My coaches told me to play through it and don’t worry about it.

“When they (Stagg) cut it to two, I knew my team needed me and I had to finish my layups.”

Watching Griffin put the Blazing Trojans on his back during crunch time is a familiar site to coach Jasper Williams.

“He’s been doing it the last two years,” Williams said. “He’s been through the wars. That’s what we expect of him.”

Stagg (20-9) trailed by as much as 32-20, with 4:55 remaining in the third quarter. The Chargers, however, rallied to cut the lead to 34-28 on a three-pointer by Max Strus (12 points) and three-point play by Sean Dwyer.

A trey by Kevin White (15) and a free throw by Strus cut the gap to 36-34 with 5:29 left in the game.

That’s when Griffin hit a free throw, two layups and a dunk to put the game away.

Jared Johnson added 13 points, while point guard Zerell Jackson played exceptional defense for Bloom. Nhyree Mitchell, Jataryan Dejareaux and Josiah Dailey came off the bench to combine for 12 points.

“He’s a special player,” Stagg coach John Daniels said of Griffin. “They’re bigger, stronger and faster, and they hurt us inside. But I’m proud of the way my kids came back.”

Bloom raced to a 13-4 lead, only to watch Stagg, behind a three by Dwyer and bucket by Strus, close to within 24-18 at intermission.

“Stagg played a great game. They were well prepared,” Williams said. “I’m just ecstatic our kids are in a position to play Marian again. It will be fun.”

No. 3 Bloom and No. 2 Marian played for the McDipper title Dec. 30, with the Spartans earning a 61-58 win.

“This is what we wanted,” Griffin said of playing Marian again. “We have another shot. We have to stay focused and be ready. They’re a very good team.”



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