Ulrich's all-around effort helps Palatine past Elk Grove
Palatine's Matt Ulrich might just be the most consistent player for the Pirates boys basketball team.
Saturday morning at the 42nd annual Jack Tosh Tournament at York High School, Ulrich turned in one of his better performances. He scored 17 points and pulled down 6 rebounds to go with 6 steals and 5 assists in the Pirates' first-round win against Elk Grove 54-50.
Palatine (8-3) next plays highly regarded Downers Grove South, which barely escaped St. Laurence 53-52 Monday afternoon, in winner's bracket play at 3:30 p.m. Monday.
"We ask Matt to do a lot," said Palatine coach Eric Millstone. "He's a calming influence when things get tight. He's been through the ringer the last two years and the others look to him for his leadership on the court."
Ulrich, a senior guard, scored 13 of his points in the second half.
Whenever the Grenadiers (6-6) would make a run, Ulrich would come up with a big play.
Elk Grove had cut Palatine's lead from 39-26 to 39-33 following a basket by Joey Gatziolis (15 points) with 3:39 left in the quarter.
A 3-point play by Ulrich followed by a 3-point play by Mackenzie Balanganayi, and a basket by Charlie Van Dyke (13 points) swelled the Palatine lead to 47-35.
Brad Hubly (10 points) scored 6 points in the quarter to help lead a 15-4 Elk Grove run to cut the Pirates' lead to 51-50 with :38 left. Fulton Wingba, who played a strong game, scored the last of his team-high 17 points when his basket made the score 51-50.
Ulrich hit a free throw and moments later stole the ball, was fouled and hit both ends of a one and bonus with :13 left to secure the win.
"When we had the lead (47-35) going into the fourth quarter, we knew Elk Grove could make a run, " said Ulrich. "On that last steal I was able to tip the ball on a pass that was going into the corner. I got a little lucky on that play. We've played a lot of close games where we've had leads, but we have the confidence as a team to keep it together. I had confidence going to the free throw line at the end of the game."
Elk Grove coach Anthony Furman lamented his team's failure to capitalize on 7 first-quarter Pirate turnovers.
"We played really good defense in the first quarter," said Furman. "We just weren't able to get anything from it. Our team made a good run at them in the fourth quarter but it was just to little to late."
The Grenadiers will play St. Laurence at 9 a.m. Monday in the consolation bracket.
"We'll have a tough game against Downers Grove South," said Ulrich. "They are a big team and we're going to have to play good defense on them for all four quarters in order to beat them."