CHICAGO HEIGHTS | Marian Catholic's Tyler Ulis usually has too much energy heading into a new season, and he has to make an effort to contain the adrenaline.
Defensively, Ulis and The Times No. 1 Spartans put their adrenaline to work for them early in the season opener, and it showed.
Marian Catholic used defensive pressure to jump on T.F. South in the first quarter, on the Spartans' way to a 75-62 win in the opening game at the Chicago Heights Classic. Ulis finished with 24 points, including four 3-pointers, and six steals. Terrone Parham finished with 11 points and five rebounds for Marian Catholic.
"I was feeling it early with my shot and defensively we got a lot of steals," Ulis said. "We were rolling early and just got it going. Usually, I come out with a little too much, but today I was really calm and easy."
Marian Catholic (1-0) used the press early and often, and the Rebels were unable to keep their composure in the face of the Spartans defense. Ulis scored 20 of his 24 in the first half, and Marian took a 46-25 lead into the half. Ki-Jana Crawford recorded five steals for the Spartans, along with six points, and Joshua Cohn scored nine.
"We're looking to play at a quicker pace this year," Marian Catholic coach Mike Taylor said. "Our defensive pressure and the way we cover for each other, it set the tone for the game."
T.F. South (0-1) was led by Ka-Ton Mays who finished with 20 points. Jamahre Baker added 15 for the Rebels and Ronald Ryan recorded eight points.
"It's very tough to go against a team of that caliber especially in the first game," T.F. South coach John O'Rourke said. "We have a lot of young guys that are coming up and still learning. We played hard and fought. It's only game one. We have a lot of work ahead of us."
In the first game of the night, No. 5 Homewood-Flossmoor topped No. 4 Thornwood 78-63. Tai Odiase finished with 23 points for the Vikings, while Bradley recruit Donte Thomas scored 20 for the Thunderbirds. Marian Catholic will face Thornwood at 6:30 p.m. today, while T.F. South will face Homewood-Flossmoor at 5 p.m. at Marian Catholic.