The two teams have been excited about this matchup all year.
Thornton (7-3) and Marian Catholic (9-1) will square off at approximately 7 p.m. today for the McDipper XLI championship.
The Wildcats last won in 2010 and Thornton's Justin Taylor and teammate Jamani Pierce said they are aware of the tourney's tradition and the big-name players who have played in it.
"No one was talking about us. Me and Jamani, we’re the underdogs," Pierce said. "We’ve been wanting to play Marian. They’re supposed to be the team to beat in the south suburbs, but we’re going to beat them."
Marian Catholic has defeated its three McDipper opponents by and average of 23.7 points per contest. Thornton won its opener 72-44, but had some trouble early in its 59-44 quarterfinal win over King, and beat Bolingbrook 71-67.
Marian is the defending champ, while the Wildcats are making their ninth title game appearance and have won it seven times, four under coach Troy Jackson.
Last year, Marian won its first McDipper title when it beat crosstown rival Bloom Township. Spartans forward Terrone Parham said his team wants to repeat to show that last year was not a one-hit wonder.
“We’re trying to make a statement that we’re one of the best teams in the state,” Parham said after Friday's win over Rich East. “We have to focus on playing defense really hard. We have to be more energetic and play our game. We’re expected to win (McDipper) this year."
The Spartans have won five in a row and have not lost to an Illinois team this season. Thornton has won six in a row after starting 1-3.
Both teams play good defense and Marian's Ki-Jana Crawford said the Spartans like the up-tempo style of play.
"We play teams that think they can play fast," Crawford said. "In reality, we're faster."