CRETE | Compared to Friday's incandescent effort, Tyler Ulis was just relatively brilliant Saturday night.
But his 22-point, five-assist, four-steal effort was enough to lead top-ranked Marian Catholic to a 67-48 victory over T.F. North in the feature game of the fourth annual Crete-Monee Shootout.
Ulis had scored 33 in the Spartans' 89-84 overtime victory over Benet Academy on Friday night.
This occasion was different, a neighborhood foe rather than a conference rival, and the second game in as many nights – albeit coming against a team playing its third contest in 24 hours. The Meteors opened the day with a victory over Phillips in the Chicago Public League tournament.
"It wasn't that tough to get up for it," Ulis said, then allowing, "We were a little tired."
But only a little. With T.J. Parham scoring 10 points, and muscling four rebounds in the third quarter, and Ki-Jana Crawford scoring nine points and working the defense with equal alacrity to Ulis, the Spartans were able to first built a 27-15 advantage on T.F. North, then to make sure the margin didn't get close.
"Defense is our main goal," Crawford said. "Pressure them. And we got turnovers."
T.F. North committed 15 turnovers, 14 in the first three quarters, when the pressure was on. Only with about six minutes left did Ulis, who played much of the second half on the bottom of a 3-2 zone, go to the bench and the pressure let up.
"I thought the kids were nervous," T.F. North coach Tim Bankston said.
Nervous, playing against the No. 1 team in the area, and the Kentucky-bound Ulis? That's not uncommon this season. The senior guard's game is mature beyond his years. For a time, he played the Meteors like Heifetz played the violin.
"He knows when to exert himself, and when to get the others involved," Marian coach Mike Taylor said. "We didn't play great, but we played hard. That comes to them naturally."
Sub Jamari Dix led T.F. North with 14 points. Dirk Jordan added 12 for the Meteors.
Bloom Township 67, Lemont 55: In a rare meeting between two of the oldest schools in the state, the Blazing Trojans controlled the game from the start, expanding an eight-point lead on the Indians to 20 points during an outburst early in the second half.
Jared Johnson led Bloom (6-3) with 15 points, with Mickhell Harris contributing 13, Zerell Jackson 11 and Delvin Echols 10. Lemont was led by Mike Wisz's 16-point effort.