CHICAGO HEIGHTS | Everyone knows you have to stop Tyler Ulis to stop Marian.
You also have to stop John Oliver with his rebounding and defensive skills. Carmel Catholic could do neither Friday as Marian Catholic beat the Corsairs 54-37 in an East Suburban Catholic opener.
Ulis was held scoreless in the first quarter, but scored all of his game-high 20 points in the middle quarters when the Spartans (7-1, 1-0) pulled away. It was Ulis' season low for points this year.
"They (Carmel) tried to deny me the ball, but in the second quarters, I started going to the basket more," Ulis said. "I had some good looks, plus once I got my teammates involved more, that made it better for everybody."
Defensively, Oliver shut down Carmel's Jack George in the second half. George had eight of his team-high 16 points in the opening quarter, but Oliver, who has just one hand, said his teammates also had a role in his defensive success.
"We got better help-side defense after the first quarter," Oliver said. "That really helped me and I was able to front him and we switched to a 2-1-2 zone. That kind of took them out of their game."
Marian won its fifth straight game and is off to its best start in several years.
"Real big for us because we wanted to get off to a good start," Ulis said. "We want to win conference and starting 1-0 is good."
Ki-Jana Crawford picked up the scoring slack in the first quarter as he had five of his nine points.
"I was open and I know they were double-teaming and trying to deny Tyler the ball," Crawford said. "My teammates hit me and the shot was there."
Josh Cohn had seven of his nine points in the fourth quarter.
It was tied 12-12 after one and Marian, behind Ulis' eight second-quarter points, took a 22-18 halftime lead. The Spartans outscored the Corsairs (4-3, 0-1) 32-19 in the second half.
Oliver also had seven rebounds and two blocks, while Ulis had five assists and three steals.