The winningest high school basketball programs of the decade: No. 17 Marian Catholic

The Sun-Times is counting down the 50 high school basketball programs with the most wins during the decade.

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Tyler Ulis of Marian Catholic dribbles around Benet’s Colin Pellettieri.

Tyler Ulis of Marian Catholic dribbles around Benet’s Colin Pellettieri.

Sun-Times file photo

When high school basketball fans think back to the 1980s, programs like Quincy, Providence St. Mel, East St. Louis Lincoln and the arrival of city powers King and Simeon are easy to think back on.

The 1990s brought us memorable basketball giants in Peoria Manual and Thornton, a few steamrolling Proviso East teams and the continued dominance of King.

The first 10 years of the 2000s included Glenbrook North, Peoria High and the beginning of a Simeon juggernaut.

Earlier this year we broke down the decade’s best teams and best players. Now, with every season of the past decade complete, it’s time to look at the Chicago area programs who won the most.

This list is comprised of the 50 winningest programs over the past 10 years, starting with the 2010-11 season and concluding with the 2019-20 season. Every team in every class throughout the Chicago area will be broken down in a variety of ways. But total wins, with winning percentage used as tie-breaker, determined the rankings.

We present No. 17 Marian Catholic today and will add one program a day going forward.


Decade’s biggest storyline: Perhaps no program rose from the ashes more than Marian Catholic over the course of the decade.

Let’s rewind to the 2009-10 season, just before the start of the new decade, when Marian Catholic finished the year 8-23. Then make the prediction to high school basketball fans that Marian Catholic would be among the top 20 winningest programs in the entire Chicago area over the next 10 years and see the response you would get.

The Spartans averaged nearly 22 wins over the 10-year period; prior to the decade the program had two 20-win seasons total. In addition, the Spartans won six regional championships, the first three sectional titles in program history and finished third in the state in Class 3A in 2017-18.

Before this past decade? Marian Catholic had won only three regional titles the previous five decades combined. And before coach Mike Taylor took over the program there was just one regional title.

Underrated highlight: Tyler Ulis. The 5-8 dynamo was a game-changer for Marian Catholic basketball and one of the greatest and most exciting players the state saw over the past 10 years.

Ulis led the Spartans to a 57-7 record and sectional titles as a junior and senior. He finished his career as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,335 points.

While he was a McDonald’s All-American and went on to become a star at Kentucky, the impact Ulis had in changing the culture at Marian Catholic is immeasurable.

Marian Catholic’s Ahron Ulis (1) rises up for a shot against Bloom.

Marian Catholic’s Ahron Ulis (1) rises up for a shot against Bloom.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Player of the Decade:Tyler Ulis (2014)

All-Decade Team:Tyler Ulis (2014), Ki-Jana Crawford (2014), Myles Howard (2016), Chris White (2019) and Ahron Ulis (2020)

Other decade highlights:

-The 2012-13 team set a school record with 29 wins. That team won regional and sectional titles before falling to Edwardsville in the supersectional.

-While the most recognizable and probably most remembered Marian Catholic teams were the two teams Tyler Ulis led to the supersectional in 2013 and 2014, the only Spartans team to bring home state hardware was the 2017-18 team that finished third in the state in Class 3A. The Spartans, led by Ahron Ulis, Malik Tidwell and Chris White, fell to Morgan Park in the state semifinals.

-Marian Catholic won four East Suburban Catholic Conference championships (2014, 2016, 2019 and 2020) during the decade. The program won two ESCC titles the previous 50 years.

-While Tyler Ulis became the all-time leading scorer in program history during the decade, brother Ahron Ulis finished as the second all-time leading scorer.

-Another underrated moment came this past season when the Spartans upset neighborhood rival and top sectional seed Bloom in the sectional semifinals.

-The Spartans won the Big Dipper Holiday Tournament at Rich South in 2012 and 2013 while also capturing the 2018 Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic championship.

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