CHICAGO HEIGHTS | Tyler Ulis would rather pass the ball than shoot it.
That doesn't mean his shooting hand has lost its touch.
The Marian Catholic junior poured in 25 points on 7-of-11 shooting, and the Spartans opened up their season with a 59-39 romp over T.F. South in the opening round if the Chicago Heights Classic on Monday.
Ulis, a 5-foot-10 guard, sparked the Spartans with 11 first-quarter points as his team grabbed a 17-14 lead.
"I didn't come out looking to score like that, but Coach (Mike Taylor) has been pushing me to shoot more," Ulis said. "Usually I like to get my teammates involved first, but if my shot is falling, I feel OK about going with it."
Ulis also added four assists for Marian. Josh Cohn scored all 10 of his points in the second frame.
"I think once we got the double-digit lead, we were able to relax a bit and take the pressure off ourselves," Taylor said. "We missed some easy layups early on, and luckily we were able to keep those from hurting us later in the game."
T.F. South trailed 32-22 lead at halftime.
"You can't stay competitive if you're missing open layups and shots in the paint," T.F. South coach John O'Rourke said. "I think once Marian took a 10-point lead, we lost focus."
The Rebels never regained their composure, managing just five points in the third period as the deficit grew to 21. Marian's defense also came up big, preventing a double-digit scorer for South, led by Jamahre Baker's nine points.
Meanwhile, Ulis continued to thrash T.F. South, scoring seven more points in the third, including a perfect 5-of-5 from the foul line.
"We go as Tyler goes, and tonight I think he went pretty well," Taylor said. "It's always good to get win Number 1 to open the season, especially at home, and hopefully we can build off this."
In the first action of the tournament, Homewood-Flossmoor pounded Thornwood 66-49 behind 15 points from Maurius Hill and 14 from Rashaan Surles.
Homewood meets T.F. South tonight, while Thornwood will square off against Marian in the second game.