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Marian Catholic's Chris Austin brings the ball up as Rich East's Russell Wright pursues in a quarterfinal of the McDipper Tournament at Rich South. Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

For the first time in 34 years, Marian Catholic has advanced to the semifinals of the Rich South McDipper.

The No. 6 Spartans easily defeated Rich East 56-34 Thursday in a quarterfinal match.

Marian Catholic (11-1), which settled for a fourth-place finish in 1978, will play Seton on Friday at 8:30 p.m.

“If you would have told me we’d be 11-1, I wouldn’t have believed you with the schedule we’ve played,” Marian Catholic coach Mike Taylor said. “We didn’t talk about the Dipper much. Of course, you get to the semis, we’ll see if we can get to Saturday night — well, where we want to be playing Saturday night.”

Win or lose Friday, the Spartans will play Saturday. The difference being a victory advances them to the championship; a loss sends them to the third-place game.

While junior standout Tyler Ulis led the attack, recording a game-high 20 points, he received plenty of assistance from his supporting cast.

Terrone Parham contributed 10 points and Kevin Phillips added nine.

Taylor couldn’t have drawn up a better start to the game. Every starter registered a bucket during the Spartans’ 11-6 first-quarter lead.

“That’s exactly what we want — get everyone scoring,” Taylor said. “Get some eyes off Tyler and it makes it easier on Tyler and forces teams to defend more.”

When Ulis, whose lightning quick moves and dazzling passes had the near-capacity crowd ‘oohing’ on multiple occasions, drained a 10-foot jumper, he gave the Spartans a 25-15 lead. Rich East would never see its deficit reach single digits the rest of the night.

Ulis scored the final eight points of the second quarter, allowing Marian to coast into intermission with a 31-15 edge.

Rich East (5-3), lethargic and uninspired most of the evening, never found its groove.

“We didn’t show up to play,” Rich East coach George Leonard said. “They’re a great team, but we were awful.”

The statistics support Leonard’s assessment. Rich East, which was led by Don Henderson (10 points) and Ron Lawton (nine), was 11-for-45 from the field.

Marian was 16-for-37 from the field and 22-for-30 from the free-throw line.

It marked the second time this season the Spartans have defeated Rich East. The first win happened on Nov. 30, with Marian posting a 60-50 victory.

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