Boys Basketball: Super rematch for Marian Catholic, Edwardsville
By Pat Disabato email@example.com March 17, 2014 9:16PM
Marian Catholic poses with the Section Championship plaque after defeating Homewood-Flossmoor for the Thornton Sectional Championship, Friday, March 14th, 2014 in Harvey | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 19, 2014 6:32AM
Marian Catholic coach Mike Taylor didn’t hesitate when asked what the key will be Tuesday when his team takes on Edwardsville in the Class 4A Illinois State Supersectional.
“We’ve got to shoot it,” Taylor said. “We have to make shots.”
Taylor speaks from experience. He watched his team convert just 20-of-50 shots at the Illinois State Supersectional last season, which resulted in a 68-49 loss to Edwardsville. Marian scored just two points in the second quarter, fell behind by 10 at the half and never recovered.
The same two teams will square off again at the same site — Redbird Arena — and with the same stakes on the line — advancement to the 4A finals on Friday.
Taylor is banking on a different result.
“We didn’t play very well last year against them,” Taylor said. “Edwardsville is very well coached. The kids want to show that we’re a better team this year.”
There are few variables to consider since last year’s meeting. For one, Marian (28-2) returns every starter. Comparatively, Edwardsville (29-2) returns just two starters from last season, though Shawn Roundtree (17.4 ppg) and 6-foot-6 Armon Fletcher (17.8 ppg) are exceptional talents.
Second, the visit to Redbird Arena was the first time Marian had played in a college atmosphere and it showed. The larger shooting background, tight rims and larger crowd can be intimidating.
Taylor made certain to schedule games this season at similar sites, including UIC and Dayton, which should benefit the Spartans.
“It’s going to help us,” Marian guard Josh Cohn said. “That was the first time we played on a college floor. We’re better prepared this year.”
Marian forward John Oliver said the Spartans might have been a little awestruck at the surroundings last season.
“We were a young team and we caught a lot of people by surprise,” Oliver said. “Now we have 10 seniors and we’ve been through it before. We’ll be much more calm and approach Tuesday the same as every game we’ve played.”
This is Edwardsville’s third consecutive supersectional. Three years ago, the Tigers suffered a loss to Bloom before upending Marian Catholic last season and earning a third-place finish in 4A.
While Fletcher, a Southern Illinois recruit, and Roundtree garner most of the attention, the Tigers have others who are capable of stepping up. Namely, Darian Brown, who scored 19 points Friday during a 56-53 win over Normal, and seniors Trevor Lacy (10.5 ppg) and Darius Crochrell.
“We’ve got to come out ready,” Marian point guard Tyler Ulis said. “We fell behind early last year. We can’t let that happen again.”
If anyone can prevent that from happening it’s Ulis, a Kentucky recruit averaging 23 ppg. Senior forward T.J. Parham, at 6-7, likely will have the task of containing Fletcher, though that assignment could be left to the 6-3 Oliver, generally regarded as the Spartans’ best defender.
“We’re going to have to play good defense and play good as a team,” Parham said. “We didn’t have much experience in big games last year. We’ve had a lot of big games this year.
“We’ll be ready.”