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Tyler Ulis of Marian Catholic bring the ball down past Joliet West's Carl Terrell. | Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media
Marian Catholic coach Mike Taylor is used to being the center of the attention when it comes to the McDipper Tournament. Over the years he has earned that regard for his witty speeches during the tournament’s pre-dinner held the first week of December.
Taylor, however, may end up being the center of attention during McDipper 40 for reasons related directly to how his team performs on the court. In a season when parity is the only way to describe how the teams stack up against each other on paper, the Spartans appear to be the unanimous team to beat.
Marian Catholic (9-1) has the most electrifying player in the tournament in junior guard Tyler Ulis. The Spartans will start tournament play against a rebuilding Rich Central team.
“I don’t see Marian losing, they are pretty darn good. We are hoping to play them because if we do that means we will be in the championship,” said Crete-Monee coach Tom Cappel, whose team will open play against Thornton. “I’m excited about the Dipper and I’m hoping to have a good run.”
The championship has been a familiar place for the Warriors (9-1), who have been there the last three seasons. With football star Laquon Treadwell finally finished touring major Division I schools and now trying to get his basketball legs back, the Warriors should be up for a good run.
They gained plenty of momentum during their last game before the tournament when they erased a late 10-point deficit against Mount Carmel and won in overtime.
“Nothing has changed for us, we want to be in the championship game,” Treadwell said. “We’re just looking to come out and compete. We made it to the championship the last few years and fell short — we want to change that.”
Two of the 16 teams in the tournament are currently ranked in the Sun-Times Top 25 as of December 23. Marian is ranked No. 7 and Bloom is No. 21.
The Blazing Trojans (7-2) are the defending champion and will have some extra incentive with coach Jasper Williams announcing this will be his last season.
“Last time going into the dipper we averaged about six to seven turnovers a game,” said Williams, whose team starts the tournament against Phillips. “This year we are averaging 15 to 16 so last year we were a little more confident. We have some new kids out there this year.
“I expect Marian Catholic to do real well; Bolingbrook (7-2) has a real good chance, and Thornton has been playing real well also.”