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Rich East's Don Henderson loses the ball against Marian Catholic's Chris Austin during their basketball game in Park Forest Friday, November 30, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Marian Catholic experienced some close losses during the 2011-12 season, something that didn’t sit well with guard Tyler Ulis.
To avoid a similar fate this season, the junior has made it a point to be more aggressive.
That doesn’t bode well for opponents.
Case in point, Rich East on Friday night.
Ulis poured in a game-high 27 points to lead Marian Catholic to a 60-50 win over the Rockets in Park Forest.
The win improved the Spartans to 4-1. Much of the hot start can be attributed to Ulis, who’s averaging a shade under 29 points per game. He finished 11-of-19 from the field Friday.
“I feel like I could have done more for my team last year,” Ulis said. “We lost a lot of close games where I thought I could have made more of a difference.”
While Ulis was the star of Friday’s game, his supporting cast stepped up when needed.
Ki-Jana Crawford finished with 11 points, six of which came during the pivotal fourth quarter. Chris Austin came off the bench to add nine.
The Spartans’ 14-2 run to start the fourth turned a 41-40 lead after three periods into a comfortable 55-42 advantage with 3:04 to play.
Ulis contributed nine points in the final stanza.
“When you put the ball in Tyler’s hands, you have a chance,” Marian coach Mike Taylor said. “Tyler is very competitive. He doesn’t like to lose.”
That’s why when the Rockets student section started razzing him, Ulis appeared even more inspired.
“I love that type of atmosphere and feed off it,” Ulis said. “I love playing the game. I make sure to have fun, but I play hard and I play to win.”
Rich East (1-1), which led 14-10 after one quarter, was led by Ron Lawton (14 points) and Don Henderson (11). Brandon Cole came off the bench to score seven, matching Russell Wright’s output.