CHICAGO HEIGHTS | Here is the problem with playing against Tyler Ulis: Stop one phase of his game, he goes to another. Stop that one, he goes to yet another. And so forth.
Third-ranked Bloom Township ran up against that quandary in the course of No. 1 Marian Catholic's 79-73 victory in the championship game of the Chicago Heights Classic on Friday afternoon.
Ulis, the 5-foot-10 Marian Catholic do-everything guard, scored 11 points in the first quarter. The Blazing Trojans clamped down on him in the second quarter, but he passed the ball to his teammates and Marian expanded a seven-point lead to 15 by halftime even though Ulis tallied nary a point.
Facing a balanced defense in the third quarter, Ulis scored 14 points. Forced to foul, Ulis added 10 more points, all from the free-throw line, in the final eight minutes, totaling 35, and preventing the Trojans from knocking off Marian on its home court.
But the triumph, Marian's first in a decade as co-host with Bloom (2-2), was not celebrated beyond a few high-fives. Ulis, speaking for his teammates on the Spartans (4-0), saw flaws in the performance.
"We got bullied inside," Ulis said. "It's just the last two days. We've got to get in the weight room and get stronger. And we've got to play all the time like it's zero-zero."
Bloom's 35-26 rebound edge is evidence of Ulis' statement. But the Spartans, while their 18-point bulge was trimmed to three points on four occasions in the fourth quarter, never surrendered the lead after taking it on T.J. Parham's 3-pointer one minute into the game.
"They manhandled us inside," Spartans coach Mike Taylor said. "We've got to get stronger. It won't happen overnight. As long as we get better every game – In a regional, when we play H-F and Bloom on consecutive nights, we've got to be ready to play."
Ulis' 35-point showing was complemented by 16 points from Parham and 10 from sub Ezra Pointer-Jones. Marian won without Ki-Jana Crawford, held out nursing an injury. And still the Trojans were forced to play catchup for 31 minutes.
"We have to limit their opportunities," Bloom coach Ron Ashlaw said. "We gave them the red carpet at times."
When Ulis had the ball, at least. He weaved between defenders, used the baseline, hit pull-up jumpers from inside and outside the three-point arc, then made 13-of-15 free throws.
"He's just good," Ashlaw said. "You do this (on defense), and he does that."
Bloom was paced by Jared Jackson (22 points) and Mickhiell Harris (17).
Fifth-ranked Homewood-Flossmoor (3-1) beat Hales Franciscan (2-2) 65-60 to capture third place. Tai Odiase scored 19 points to lead the Vikings. No. 4 Thornwood (2-2) edged Hillcrest (2-2) 48-46 to take fifth place, while Brooks (1-3) beat T.F. South (0-4) 64-57 for seventh place.