It’s rare to see a student section storm the court during Thanksgiving week, especially if the game isn’t even the tournament championship.
But Homewood-Flossmoor and Marian Catholic have built a special Thanksgiving Eve tradition. The gym was packed and the two stars, Ahron Ulis of the Spartans and RJ Ogom of H-F, delivered big performances.
Ulis has the more experienced team around him and that made all the difference in the fourth quarter.
Marian Catholic asserted itself late to beat No. 14 Homewood-Flossmoor 63-57. The win sets up a major showdown in the Chicago Heights Classic title game on Saturday. The No. 6 Spartans will host top-ranked Bloom, their crosstown rival.
“I’ve been waiting to play [Bloom] for so long,” Marian Catholic senior Joe Green said. “I grew up with most of the players on that team. I’m ready for that game.”
Ulis led the Spartans (3-0) with 21 points and six rebounds. Green scored 14 and made 4 of 6 free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
The game was tied at 40 after three quarters. Marian Catholic took the lead for good on a long three-pointer by junior Malik Bell. Spartans coach Mike Taylor was standing right behind Bell when he launched the shot, which clearly was not what Taylor had in mind for that particular possession.
“We found a way,” Taylor said. “Jeremiah Jones and [Bell] are learning. They learned some tough lessons tonight. They will grow as players.”
- Marian Catholic’s Elijah Jones (4) goes hard to the basket and gets the bucket over Homewood-Flossmoor’s R.J. Ogom (23). Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times
- Marian Catholic’s Ahron Ulis (1) drives to the basket for a layup against Homewood-Flossmoor. Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times
- Marian Catholic’s Joe Green (0) fakes one way and starts to dribble toward the basket as Homewood-Flossmoor’s Brandon Brewer (4) defends. Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times
- Marian Catholic’s Malik Bell (23) passes to get the Spartan offense started as they play Homewood-Flossmoor. Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times
Ogom, a senior committed to College of Charleston, scored a game-high 27 points and grabbed ten rebounds. He started his high school career at Marian Catholic.
“I’ve known RJ since I was kid and he’s really grown as a player, he’s so strong,” Ulis said.
The Spartans committed 15 turnovers, a high number for an experienced, guard-oriented team.
“We have to work on that, being more patient with the ball and make better passes,” Ulis said.
Senior Josiah Palmer scored nine for H-F (2-1). Chad Readey, a 6-8 junior, added six points.
“We didn’t win the game, we won it because we were experienced,” Taylor said. “[H-F] played better. They played really hard and we had a hard time attacking their zone and foul trouble hurt us.”
Taylor knows his players have been looking forward to a shot at top-ranked Bloom.
“It’s what they want to do,” Taylor said. “Coming off this environment and not really satisfied with how we performed, it should be a good game.”
Live final minute of Homewood-Flossmoor at Marian Catholic. Second attempt https://t.co/SymrEYH395— Michael O'Brien (@michaelsobrien) November 28, 2019