Bloom junior Santana Flowers and sophomore Elijah Lovemore have shared long bus rides all season. There have been countless practices and school days, so many hours to dream of the moment that finally arrived on Sunday at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights.
“Santana and I are really close off the court,” Lovemore said. “We’ve been talking about how our time is going to come for a while now.”
It came in one of the Blazing Trojans’ biggest games of the season. Flowers and Lovemore stepped up in place of three key missing players and led Bloom to a 60-55 win against Mount Carmel.
Jayden Watson, a 6-7 senior, and 6-5 Jaden Clark are both out injured. Blazing Trojans coach Dante Maddox is hoping they return next week. Michael Garner, a 6-7 senior, was away this weekend on a football recruiting visit.
Bloom lost to two ranked teams, Kenwood and Lincoln-Way East, earlier this week. But Flowers and Lovemore teamed up to take down the highly regarded Caravan and end the team’s challenging stretch on a high note.
Flowers, a 6-5 wing, scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
“Santana is a warrior,” Maddox said. We have been talking this last week about guys stepping up and being stars in their role. Santana and Elijah have both embraced that. So, we’ve been able to fight through this situation.”
Lovemore is emerging as one of the area’s best sophomores. He finished with 10 points and seven assists.
“I knew from the beginning of season that for us to be the best we can be Elijah was going to have to take the lead as the point guard at some point in the year,” Maddox said. “We’ll be playing through him for the rest of the year.”
Lovemore, 6-2, transferred from St. Laurence to Bloom over the summer. He says point guard comes naturally to him.
“I love those moments, being the guy to make everybody else succeed,” Lovemore said. “I feel like I was born for that. I’m built for that.”
The Blazing Trojans (13-5) took control with a 16-0 run in the second quarter. Mount Carmel star DeAndre Craig, a Denver recruit, only scored four points in the first half. He threw up twice in the locker room at halftime and apparently felt much better in the second half.
“In the fourth quarter [Craig] tried to take over the game in an unselfish way to help us claw back in the game and give us some spark on offense,” Caravan coach Phil Segroves said.
Craig scored 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter as Mount Carmel pulled within four on several occasions and cut the deficit to three in the final 13 seconds.
Bloom shot 8 of 13 from the free-throw line in the final three minutes, good enough to hold on to the win.
“We needed this,” Maddox said. “What we need to get better at has nothing to do with the beginning of the game. It has to do with making free throws and making good decisions at the end. If we do, we can play with anyone in the state with the way we play defense.”
Senior Raeshom Harris and sophomore Payton Edwards each scored nine points for Bloom and Jordan Brown contributed with five points, five rebounds, three steals and three assists.
Senior Anthony Ciaravino led Mount Carmel (17-2) with 19 points and his brother Angelo added nine points and five rebounds.
The Caravan’s last loss was Nov. 25 against Oak Lawn.
“That loss helped us win four or five big games,” Segroves said. “If we can take this loss today and build off this it is well worth it.”