CHICAGO — The Bloomington High School basketball team improved to 5-0 with a 59-56 victory over St. Rita (4-2) in the Chicago Elite Classic at UIC Pavilion on Friday.
Chris Payton led the way with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Chris Pugh added 17 points, six rebounds and four steals.
BHS enjoyed a 12-10 lead after one quarter, but trailed at halftime, 27-19, thanks to 5-of-15 free throw shooting. Payton, an Illinois State recruit, had nine points and seven rebounds the first half while St. Rita's Jordan Matthews had eight points and four boards.
"We looked terrible in the first half and we looked amazing in the second half," said BHS coach Micheal Mosley. "We were down at halftime and close to getting blown out of the gym."
Matthews finished with 16 points and St. Rita teammate Jordan Gladney had 11.
A 6-0 run helped the Purple Raiders go on top, 34-33, with 1:07 left in the third period. St. Rita took a 37-36 lead into the fourth quarter.
Turnovers took a toll on St. Rita as BHS moved in front, 42-38, with 6:01 left. The Raiders scored 23 points off 21 forced turnovers. BHS also finished with 19 second-chance points.
With 3:14 to go, the Raiders were up 49-43, but at the 1:29 mark the lead had shrunk to 52-51. BHS improved at the free throw line in the second half to finish 21 of 35.
"They were never able to handle our pressure," Mosley said. "At the end, they got some garbage baskets on us to cut it to three."
BHS, which missed all nine of its 3-point attempts, returns to action at 6 p.m. Saturday at Hillcrest.