Boys Basketball: Marian Catholic aims to defend McDipper crown
By Pat Disabato firstname.lastname@example.org December 24, 2013 6:38PM
Marian Catholic players celebrate after beating Bloom for the 2012 McDipper Tournament championship. | File photo
Seton vs. King, 9 a.m.
Perspectives Calumet, 10:30 a.m.
Rich South vs.
University High, noon
Crete-Monee, 1:30 p.m.
Joliet Central vs. Leo, 4 p.m.
Hales vs. Rich Central, 5:30 p.m.
Marian Catholic vs.
Tinley Park, 7 p.m.
Barron Collier vs.
Rich East, 8:30 p.m.
Updated: January 27, 2014 12:36PM
The buzz surrounding Marian Catholic was beginning to boil at the 2012 McDipper Tournament.
When the four-day tourney ended, Marian Catholic, behind Tyler Ulis, claimed the championship, beating neighborhood rival Bloom.
It’s safe to say McDipper put Marian Catholic on the McMap.
“I think that’s when everyone started taking notice of Marian,” said Mark Hopman, Rich South athletic director and McDipper organizer. “Winning the McDipper showed that they were for real.”
McDipper 41 tips off at 9 a.m. Thursday with a contest between Seton and King. The championship is set for 7 p.m. Monday. Tickets are priced at $5 per session of four games. An entire day’s worth of quality hoops — eight games in all — will run a spectator $10.
“Our kids love this tournament,” Marian coach Mike Taylor said. “There are great crowds every night and great competition and tradition. Hopefully, we can go and defend our title.”
With every starter back from their Elite Eight squad, including Ulis, a Kentucky recruit, the Spartans are clearly the team to beat. Which is why they secured the No. 1 seed. Marian opens against Tinley Park at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“We’ve never been the No. 1 seed,” Taylor said. “We’ve kind of lived off the underdog mentality for a long time. Now we have to be on our toes every game. It would be a great accomplishment to repeat, especially in a tournament that is as good and competitive as the McDipper.”
The one team Marian does not have to be concerned with is Bloom, which opted out of McDipper 41.
“It makes a difference not having Bloom here,” Taylor said. “The Bloom community brings a lot of passion. They love their basketball and bring a lot of local flavor. I wish they were here.”
Even without Bloom, McDipper 41 promises to be action-packed.
Thornton, with seven championships, is one of the favorites to dethrone Marian. The Wildcats boast top players in Justin Taylor and Jamani Pierce along with a junior class that recorded undefeated seasons as sophomores and freshmen.
Others in the mix to compete for the big prize include Bolingbrook, Joliet Central, Crete-Monee and host Rich South.
Rich Central boasts the most McDipper championships — nine. But with a young, inexperienced squad, the Olympians are a long shot to nail down title No. 10.
“It’s an excellent field,” Hopman said. “We have one of the best teams in the state (Marian) and one of the best players in the country (Ulis) playing here. Thornton and Bolingbrook are also very talented and Crete-Monee is off to a great start as is Rich South. So I think it’s going to be very competitive.”
Three new teams enter the 16-team field: University High, Perspectives Calumet and Barron Collier of Naples, Fla.
“They (Barron Collier) actually searched us out,” Hopman said. “They went on our website and liked what they saw. Most of their kids have never been to this part of the country. With Sunday being an off day, they’ll get to go to the city and see some things. But I’m anxious to see how they play.”
Barron Collier will open against Rich East at 8:30 p.m. Thursday. The winner likely will face Marian in the second round.
“If we play Barron Collier, I hope it’s really cold,” said Taylor, with a laugh. “Maybe open up the doors to the gym and make it feel like they’re getting an ocean breeze like in Florida.”
The IHSA announced Tuesday a series of preliminary penalties against Leo and Seton as the result of a fight that occurred Friday’s game. The altercation took place late in the fourth quarter and the game was not resumed, resulting in a cancelation.
The coaches from both schools — Leo’s Noah Cannon and Seton’s Justin Domingo — and multiple players from each team have been suspended for their next contests, Thursday at the McDipper. Seton plays King at 9 a.m., while Leo meets Joliet Central at 4 p.m.
A meeting between officials from the IHSA, Leo and Seton has been scheduled to discuss additional penalties that may be levied as a result of the incident.
“These actions have no place in athletics at any level and will not be tolerated,” IHSA executive director Marty Hickman said in a news release.