RICHTON PARK | For the first time, two Chicago Heights schools will meet for the McDipper championship.
Defending champion Times No. 2 Bloom Township (10-2) and No. 4 Marian Catholic (12-1) will meet at 7 p.m. today for the McDipper 40 title at Rich South High School.
Times No. 2 Bloom Township let a big first-half lead slip away, but came back with a strong fourth quarter to beat No. 3 Crete-Monee 51-46.
Marian used a strong fourth quarter and the hot hands of Tyler Ulis (18 points) and T.J. Parham (14 points) to beat the Sting 61-52. Both games were played before a packed and loud house.
Crete-Monee (11-2) plays Seton (10-6) at 5:30 p.m. for third place.
The loss stopped Crete-Monee from making its fourth straight title game appearance. Bloom, which beat the Warriors for the title last year, is the defending champ and will be looking to win its third McDipper title.
Marian, which has a 10-game winning streak, is making its first McDipper title game appearance.
Ulis was 5-of-6 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and said he was sure of himself. He is a 90 percent free-throw shooter in the fourth quarter.
"Fourth quarter, I am pretty confident about my free-throw shooting," Ulis said. "We got to the line and we knew we had to put the game away."
And it is good to be part of program history.
"We wanted to get to the championship and Bloom will be a tough game," Ulis said. "We want to win it."
Parham scored eight of his points in the fourth quarter, including a big 3-pointer to put Marian up 50-45 with 4 minutes, 2 seconds left.
"I just try to play with confidence," Parham said. "We needed some shots and I was open."
Mark Weems Jr. led the Sting with 19 points, while Armahn Mooring had 10.
With Seton in foul trouble and Marian using a 2-3 and 1-2-2 zone, the Spartans were able to control the tempo.
"We had our two big guys in foul trouble early, but we were able to get through it," Spartans coach Mike Taylor said. "Our guys played our game and kept their poise."
In the Blazing Trojans win over the Warriors, Dejahown Freeman had the hot hand as he had a game-high 20 points, including eight in the fourth quarter.
He also had a good game on the defensive end guarding Crete's Marvie Keith. He stole the ball from his longtime friend with 20 seconds left to help seal the win.
"I just saw an opening and reached in for the ball," Freeman said. "I just thought it was a perfect time for the reach."
As for his 5-of-10 shooting from 3-point range, Freeman said he was on.
"They call me the hot hand," Freeman said. "Coach (Jasper Williams) talked to me at school before we left for Rich South and told me to not be afraid to shoot."
The Blazing Trojans led 26-14 at halftime, but the Warriors had the hot hand in the third quarter as they had a 20-4 run with Tyler Williams (8 points) hitting a pair of 3-pointers.
"What a game, very physical," Crete coach Tom Cappel said. "My face is still pulsating."
He credited his team for not folding.
"We came back and Tyler hit a couple of big baskets," Cappel said. "Bloom is a good team and they came back after we took the lead."