MIKE NIETO: A pure Kentucky thoroughbred

2014-03-11T22:30:00Z 2014-03-12T01:29:05Z MIKE NIETO: A pure Kentucky thoroughbredMike Nieto Prep Beat nwitimes.com
March 11, 2014 10:30 pm  • 

HARVEY | Tyler Ulis has done just about everything to take over a game in the fourth quarter and swing it in favor of Marian Catholic.

The Kentucky recruit showed why he is one of the best and why he is McDonald's All-American. He took over Tuesday's Class 4A Thornton Sectional semifinal right from the start.

He left no doubt in the Spartans' 66-45 win. Heck, when he left the game with two minutes left, he had 40 points, the same as Bloom Township.

When you have a thoroughbred, a Secretariat, you ride him. For Marian, that big race could be the Class 4A crown on March 22 in Peoria.

He drilled five 3-pointers in the first quarter on on 5-of-5 shooting. He hit a 23-foot 3 with 2:20 left in the first quarter and came back with about a 25-footer.

"My shot was just falling," Ulis said. "Coach (Mike) Taylor told me to come out and be aggressive, make things happen and I did. I think it opened up things for the other guys who were open."

Ulis is a master at getting other players involved and he did that Tuesday, but in another way teammate Josh Cohn said.

"He got hot right away and then they started doubling on him," Cohn said. "That opened things up for us and he found us. He found me a couple of times in the first quarter and Terrone (Parham), too.

"That is why he is a McDonald's All-American."

Cohn knocked down two first-quarter 3s.

"We wanted Tyler to set the tone early and he did," Taylor said. "He controlled the flow of the game and that is what we needed."

Bloom Township had no answer for Ulis, and coach Ron Ashlaw said Ulis was on fire. One day those long 3s may count as 4-pointers at another level.

"That is why he is going to Kentucky and I believe he will play at the highest level," Ashlaw said. "What do you do? You try to get a hand up, but if you try to crowd him, he is that good that he will drive past you or hit an open man.

"He is that good of a player. He took control of the game from the start."

Ulis also showed his other skills when the Blazing Trojans closed to 43-37 with 1:54 left in the third. He simply controlled the ball, slowed things down a bit and made sure his team got back in control as it went on a 15-0 run to take a 58-37 lead.

He controlled the tempo, gave his team confidence and made sure the Spartans would advance to Friday's championship against the winner of tonight's Homewood-Flossmoor-Thornwood contest. He could have forced shots and maybe let Bloom back in, but instead Ulis showed why he is one of the best.

He knows how good he is, though he doesn't let on. His teammates know he makes them better and is unselfish. They know in certain situations, you get the ball to your All-American and the All-American knows when those situations are.

This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at mike.nieto@nwi.com.

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