Boys Basketball: Bloom’s Jared Johnson knows close encounters lie ahead
By Pat Disabato firstname.lastname@example.org March 5, 2014 10:02PM
Bloom's Jared Johnson drives past Rich East's Nicholas Harden during a basketball game in Chicago Heights, Il., Feb. 7, 2014. | John Smierciak/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 7, 2014 12:42PM
Bloom’s Jared Johnson promises not to look ahead during the Class 4A playoffs.
He’s well aware, however, that if all goes well during regional competition, the opportunity for redemption likely will arrive during the sectional in the form of Marian Catholic and Thornton.
The Blazing Trojans lost to each of those teams during the regular season.
“That would be really exciting,” Johnson said. “The playoffs couldn’t be laid out any better for us, as far as having an opportunity to play both of those teams again. We believe we can beat Marian and Thornton. But we have to take it one game at a time. We can’t take anyone for granted.”
Johnson grew up in South Holland before moving to Harvey when he was 7. He was all set to go to tradition-rich Thornton with his buddies, namely current Wildcats stars Justin Taylor and Jemani Pierce.
Johnson’s family, however, moved to Chicago Heights before Jared got to high school. He remains close with Taylor and Pierce, which adds to the excitement of a potential Bloom vs. Thornton sectional final.
“We all still talk,” Johnson said. “We’re still friends. That would be a lot of fun.”
Bloom’s season has been a challenging one. First, longtime coach Jasper Williams retired. In came Ron Ashlaw, formerly the coach at Waukegan.
The styles of Williams and Ashlaw vastly differ. Williams demanded all-out effort on defense and patience on offense. Ashlaw prefers an uptempo pace and gives his players the freedom to create on offense.
Johnson acknowledged it’s been an adjustment from one style to the other.
“For me, I feel like I can play my game more this year,” said Johnson, who plays AAU for the Illinois Wolverines. “Coach Ashlaw lets us all play our game. But there are times when we’re not all on the same page, and that’s hurt us. Coach Williams was a great coach. He demanded discipline. It’s taken a while to get used to everything.”
The Blazing Trojans, who won the Southland Conference, stand 18-8 after Tuesday’s 74-46 win over Plainfield South in a Class 4A Bloom Regional semifinal. Next up is Joliet Central on Friday in Chicago Heights. If the Blazing Trojans are going to continue their pursuit of state supremacy, Johnson, who’s averaging 16.4 points per game, likely will have to be at his best. His ability to produce offense from the perimeter and in the paint makes him one of the area’s most dangerous scorers.
Johnson has yet to make a decision on college, though he’s likely going to attend a junior college.
“I’m not sure yet,” Johnson said. “I have a couple of colleges looking at me. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s close to home or far away. I just want to finish this season strong and then focus on college.”