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One of the keys to beating Marian Catholic is stopping junior guard Tyler Ulis. That hasn’t been an easy task for any team the last few seasons.
As for Notre Dame, the key to stopping the Dons is keeping their best player -- Matt Mooney -- in check.
Friday night the Spartans weren’t able to control Mooney and the Dons put the clamps on Ulis, but the Spartans still found a way to eke out a 55-50 East Suburban conference win.
Ulis had just two free throws in the first half and was held to 12 points -- 11 below his season average. But he made up for his lack of scoring with 10 assists and a lot of help from his teammates.
“They played physical, bumped me off screens, double-teamed me off screens,” Ulis said. “Luckily, my teammates stepped up and played hard all game. It was an all-around team performance.”
T.J. Parham, who became eligible in late December after transferring from St. Francis de Sales, added 13 points for the Spartans (24-3, 5-2) while Kevin Phillips added 10 points off the bench.
Mooney, an Air Force recruit, rallied his team back from a 30-25 third quarter deficit, hitting four three-pointers in the third -- five on the night -- and a game-high 27 points for the Dons (20-5, 5-3). Teammate Justin Halloran added 12 -- all three pointers.
“They have a good player and we have a good player,” Notre Dame coach Tom Les said. “I think we had a couple of opportunities we didn’t capitalize on. They found a way to win and good teams do that.”
Trailing 44-43 with just under 5 minutes left in the fourth, the Spartans closed the game with a 12-6 run. Ulis had six points during the run, including 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Parham’s open layup with 15 seconds left sealed the deal, accounting for the final score.
The Dons led 15-8 in the first quarter before the Spartans went on a 12-0 run for an eventual 22-20 halftime lead.
“Mooney has his game and Tyler can play any game but they did an awesome job on him,” Marian Catholic coach Mike Taylor said. “That was right up there with Bloom, they do a great job on him too. Tyler played the point guard role and didn’t get overly frustrated.”