Boys Basketball: Ulis three-mendous in Marian Catholic’s win over Bloom
By Pat Disabato firstname.lastname@example.org March 11, 2014 10:56PM
Ki-Jana Crawford, of Marian Catholic, looks for a play against Bloom for Sectional action at Thornton, Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 in Harvey | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 13, 2014 6:39AM
Marian Catholic coach Mike Taylor instructed point guard Tyler Ulis to be more aggressive looking for his shot early during Tuesday’s Class 4A Thornton Sectional semifinal against Bloom.
Ulis adhered to his coach’s demand, which didn’t bode well for the Blazing Trojans.
Ulis made five three-pointers in the first quarter to stake Marian to a 25-13 lead and eventual 66-45 victory over Bloom.
The Spartans (27-2) advance to Friday’s sectional final and will play the winner of Wednesday’s semifinal between Thornwood and Homewood-Flossmoor.
Ulis, a Kentucky recruit, made his first six shots of the game — all three-pointers — and added two free throws for a 20-point first half.
“Coach told me to come out aggressive and look for my shot,” Ulis said. “My shot was falling. It felt good.”
The Spartans took a 38-23 lead into the first-half intermission.
Bloom (20-9) made a concerted effort to work the ball inside and cut the deficit to 43-37 with 1:46 remaining in the third quarter. Mickhiell Harris scored six of his seven points during the spurt.
“Our game plan getting off the bus was to get the ball inside early,” Bloom coach Ron Ashlaw said. “We don’t have the kind of firepower from the perimeter that they have. We got the ball inside in the third quarter and got back in the game.”
But a three by Ulis capped a 7-0 Marian spurt to end the third quarter and opened up a 50-37 advantage.
Ulis went off for 12 points in the fourth quarter, erasing any hope of a potential Blazing Trojans comeback.
“We wanted him to be aggressive and let the others feed off his production,” Taylor said. “A lot of times Tyler will come out and dish it first.”
As instrumental as Ulis’ performance was to the win, the Spartans defense, particularly that of John Oliver on Bloom’s leading scorer, Jared Johnson, was equally instrumental. Oliver, a 6-foot-3 senior, held the 6-5 Johnson to just four points on 1-of-6 shooting. The Blazing Trojans finished 17-of-43 from the field compared with a 20-of-40 effort by the Spartans.
“My key role during the playoffs is guarding the other team’s best player,” Oliver said. “I like doing that. If I can keep them under 10 points, we have a good chance at winning.”
Bloom’s big three of Johnson, James Coleman and Zerell Jackson were held to a combined 16 points. Jamal Parks led the Blazing Trojans with 10 points.
Terrone Parham added 11 points and Josh Cohn nine for Marian.
Despite sharing the same Chicago Heights zip code, Ulis insisted there was no added pressure in beating Bloom. It was simply another step toward the ultimate goal of winning a state championship.
“We look at every opponent the same,” he said. “We take it one game at a time. It’s just one more game down.”