HARVEY | For the Marian Catholic boys basketball team, this win has been a long time coming.
The Spartans captured their first sectional championship with a 50-46 win over Bloom Township at the 4A Thornton Sectional. Tyler Ulis led the Spartans and all scorers with 25 points, including 12 of 13 from the free throw line.
Marian beat Bloom 61-58 in December to win the McDipper championship and until Friday, it was the Blazing Trojans' last loss. Bloom saw its 16-game winning streak snapped.
"This means a lot to our team," Ulis said. "I came in as a freshman not winning many games. It's just great how we turned it around. I've built a friendship with a lot of these guys, and it just worked out for the best."
Bloom Township (26-4) came out strong to start the game and led 12-9 after one quarter, but a 12-0 Spartan run to start the second quarter quickly put Marian Catholic in the lead. The Blazing Trojans offense struggled throughout the second quarter and was held scoreless in the second until a three pointer by Zerell Jackson with 30 seconds left in the second finally got Bloom Township back on the scoreboard.
"We became stagnant and just stood around and watched," Bloom coach Jasper Williams said. "We didn't move the ball and didn't move our bodies. It was just one of those bad quarters."
Marian Catholic (29-3) was able to maintain its lead throughout the entire second half, but the Blazing Trojans made things interesting late. Bloom was able to cut the Marian Catholic lead to two with under ten second remaining in the game, but two Ulis free throws sealed the win for the Spartans.
"We just play really hard and play great defensively," Ulis said. "Our offensive game hasn't been on lately, but defensively Ki-Jana Crawford and John Oliver have been stepping up and that's helped us out a lot."
Marian Catholic coach Mike Taylor had nothing but high praise for all his team has accomplished this season.
"It's awesome and these kids worked so hard to get it," Taylor said of the sectional crown. "They had a target on them and they performed. I'm so proud of them. They all stepped up."