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Boys Basketball: Marian Catholic overruns Thornton for McDipper championship

Tyler Ulis Marian Catholic splits Thorntdefense going for basket for McDipper Tournament Championship Game Rich South Monday December 30th 2013

Tyler Ulis, of Marian Catholic, splits the Thornton defense going in for the basket for the McDipper Tournament Championship Game at Rich South, Monday, December 30th, 2013, in Richton Park. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 1, 2014 6:20AM



Tyler Ulis wasn’t going to allow the chance to lead Marian Catholic to consecutive McDipper championships slip away.

Not even after seven-time McDipper champion Thornton raced out to an 8-1 lead Monday night.

By the time the first quarter ended, the Spartans erased their seven-point deficit and tied the game at 14.

By halftime, behind an awe-inspiring display by Ulis, Marian opened a 12-point halftime lead and cruised to a 75-58 victory over Thornton to claim McDipper 41 at Rich South.

Ulis finished with a game-highs of 28 points and six assists. For good measure, he pulled down four rebounds.

“I had no thoughts in my mind we were going to lose,” said Ulis, who earned McDipper MVP honors for the second straight year. “Even when they were ahead 8-1, I had no doubt we were going to win.”

Josh Cohn and Terrone Parham provided quality support, finishing with 13 and 12 points, respectively, for the Spartans (10-1). Ki-Jana Crawford was a force as well, adding nine points, seven boards and customary tenacious defense. Chris Austin came off the bench and canned two three-pointers for Marian, which is the first team to register back-to-back McDipper championships since Thornton accomplished the feat in 2004 and ’05.

“It’s these kids,” Marian coach Mike Taylor said. “They just have a hunger and they love playing together.”

Ulis, however, was a show-stopper, constantly thrilling the capacity crowd with precision no-look passes and myriad baskets. The Kentucky recruit keyed a 13-2 run to start the second quarter that was the difference. When he put the finishing touches on a jaw-dropping move to the paint that resulted in an easy bucket, the Spartans’ lead had swelled to 27-16.

“He gets that look in his eyes and says, ‘Let’s go,’ ” Taylor said of Ulis. “He such a darn competitor.”

Thornton got as close as nine on multiple occasions in the second half, the final time coming at the 2:41 mark of the fourth quarter when Keondre Woods’ bucket made it 65-56. Woods finished with 15 points.

Any thoughts of a late rally were squelched when Parham buried a three-pointer that made it 70-56.

Despite the loss, Thornton (7-4) served notice its a team to reckon with the rest of the season.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Thornton’s Jamani Pierce, who finished with 16 points and seven rebounds before fouling out. “But we played well overall. I know we’re a team that can make a run.”

Justin Taylor added nine points for the Wildcats.



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