BOYS BASKETBALL | MCDIPPER XLI

Ulis leads Marian Catholic to second straight McDipper championship

2013-12-30T22:15:00Z 2014-09-18T23:35:14Z Ulis leads Marian Catholic to second straight McDipper championshipMike Nieto mike.nieto@nwi.com, (219) 933-3249 nwitimes.com
December 30, 2013 10:15 pm  • 

RICHTON PARK | Tyler Ulis was going to make sure that Marian Catholic would repeat as McDipper champions.

The Kentucky-bound guard took over another game as The Times No. 1 Spartans beat Thornton 75-58 in front of packed house Monday at Rich South for the McDipper XLI title.

Thornton coach Troy Jackson said while his team played well, one thing got in its way.

"Too much Tyler Ulis," Jackson said. "He penetrated, dished off, played defense. He just played great."

Ulis finished with a game-high 28 points, six assists and four rebounds as he became the first player named to the all-tournament four consecutive years. He also won the tourney most valuable player award again — the first to repeat since Thornton's Joevan Catron in 2004-05. Marian is the first team to repeat as champion since Thornton, also 2004-05.

"This feels great because we wanted to repeat and a lot of teams wanted to beat us," center John Oliver said. "My  teammates, we played a team game.

"Once again, Tyler took over. He just knows when to go and take charge."

Thornton jumped to an 8-1 lead early when Ulis, Ohn Oliver and Terorne Parham had two fouls. Marian coach Mike Taylor changed his defense from a zone to a man-to-man.

"We knew they were calling it close," Ulis said. "Coach switched us up and we just started playing defense and forcing turnovers. That is our game."

Marian, which blew out its first three opponents in the tourney, was in a fight from the beginning, but slowly pulled away from the Wildcats.

The Spartans (10-1) caused three straight turnovers and went on an 11-2 run to take a 27-16 lead. With Ulis on the bench, Marian Catholic opened a 35-23 halftime lead.

"We need to get Tyler out for 2/12 minutes or so," Taylor said. "We had him out and we gained two points. That says a lot about our kids and how they play defense."

Thornton was led by Jamani Pierce's 16 points. He said that one stretch did in the Wildcats (7-4).

"We forced some long shots and didn't rebound," Pierce said. "They played some good defense and stopped us. We played well, but we made some mistakes and it hurt."

Thornton pulled within 65-56 on a Keondre Woods' jumper with 2:49 left, but Ulis, came back with a basket as Marian went on 9-0 run to end the game.

One of the other heroes for the Spartans, who have won six in a row, was Ki-Jana Crawford. He had seven rebounds and three steals to go with his nine points.

"Ki-Jana did a great job on the defensive side and getting boards against the bigger kids," Taylor said. "With Tyler out, he kind of ran things, played tough defense and kept us going."

Crawford said it was all in a day's work.

"We knew the refs were calling a close game, so we had to make sure we didn't get into foul trouble," Crawford said. "We just wanted this too bad to let it get away. "

In the third-place game, Prentiss Nixon's 19 points led Bolingbrook to a 91-62 win over Joliet Central.

Leo 70, Crete-Monee 59: Tyler Williams' 24 points led the Warriors (9-4) in the consolation championship loss to the Lions.

Mike Nelson added 13 points and seven rebounds.

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