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St. Patrick's Keith Langston (left) and Marion Catholic's Tyler Ulis (right) battle for the ball during an East Suburban Catholic matchup on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013. | John Smierciak~for Sun-Times Media
Marian Catholic coach Mike Taylor left his team’s final regular-season game with a nice combination of things to take away. Not only did the Spartans get a win, they got a lesson to carry into the postseason.
Host Marian fell behind St. Patrick 8-0 and trailed 20-17 at the half before turning it on for a 52-38 East Suburban Catholic win Wednesday night in Chicago Heights.
“St. Pat’s played ‘D’ as physical as we’ve seen this year,” Taylor said. “We didn’t respond great. I’m glad it happened, because we know teams are going to come at us in the postseason and come at Tyler [Ulis]. We can take the pounding [Wednesday] and learn from it.”
Ulis was just 1-for-10 from the field for four points in the first half before scoring 10 in the third to get the Spartans (25-3, 6-2) going. He finished with a game-high 17 points and added five rebounds.
Josh Cohn added 11 points for Marian, which missed out on a chance to share the conference crown as Benet’s 48-47 win over Nazareth clinched the outright title for the Redwings.
Keith Langston (eight rebounds) and Royale Ewing led St. Patrick (17-8, 4-4) with 13 points each.
The game turned on a 13-0 Marian run beginning midway through the third. Ulis scored six points, had two assists and two steals during the surge that gave the Spartans a 34-25 lead.
“It was a rough shooting night for me,” Ulis said. “I just stayed aggressive. [Taylor] kept stressing to be aggressive. This was a great game for us going into the playoffs because we took all those shots and just fought through it.”
John Oliver scored seven of his nine points in the third for Marian, including a three-point play that started the rally.
“We realized we weren’t playing our type of basketball in the first half,” he said. “We were playing a little lackadaisical. We stepped it up. Any way I can contribute to my team, on ‘D’ or scoring, I’m happy.”
Ulis’ floater at the third-quarter buzzer put Marian up 36-28 before back-to-back treys from Cohn in the opening 90 seconds of the fourth delivered the final dagger to the Shamrocks.
A brief shoving match after Cohn’s second three-pointer made it 42-30 resulted in the ejection of three Marian players: Chris Austin, Nick Jackson and Kevin Phillips.
Langston hit a pair of treys as the Shamrocks raced to an 8-0 lead to open the game. Marian did not score in first 3:19, but closed the first on a 10-0 run.
Terrone Parham added eight points and eight rebounds for the Spartans. The top seed in the Class 4A Thornton Sectional, Marian will open the playoffs Tuesday against either T.F. South or Lincoln-Way East.
“I like where we’re at,” Taylor said. “We know we can’t have a quarter-and-half like we did [Wednesday] in the playoffs, though.”