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Ty Jackson takes Marian Catholic past Thornton

Marian Catholic’s Ty Jackson didn’t grow up enamored with basketball.

The 5-foot-10 guard/forward, a Crete resident, said she didn’t even start playing until sixth grade. She actually could have played earlier but was a bit hesitant about taking up the sport.

“I didn’t want to play because I was tall, and I didn’t want to be stereotyped because of my height,” Jackson said. “But I tried it and I really liked it.”

Marian fans are sure glad she did.

Jackson scored seven points off the bench Tuesday night, including five in the third quarter, as the Spartans beat the host Wildcats 52-23 in the Class 3A Thornton Sectional semifinals in Harvey.

Western Illinois recruit Madison Davis, who was named the East Suburban Catholic Conference’s player of the year, led Marian (27-7) with 19 points. Jordan Bailey added seven.

Thornton (20-8) was paced by Phalan Sigers with 12 points.

It’s a third straight trip to the sectional final for Marian, which plays at 7 p.m. Thursday vs. Butler (23-10), a 65-34 winner over Providence. Gabi Bednar led the Celtics (18-16) with nine points.

Marian coach Dan Murray said Jackson played on varsity as a freshman as part of an eight-player rotation for the Spartans. Now, she’s first off the bench, giving the team a boost each time.

“She is full of energy, a fantastic defense player, and her offense is developing,” Murray said of Jackson. “You can see the capabilities she has, and she gave us great minutes.”

Thornton’s Sajda Tyehimba (5) gets off a shot in traffic against Marian Catholic during the Class 3A Thornton Sectional semifinals in Harvey on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. (Jeff Vorva / Daily Southtown)

Davis remembered three years ago when she was playing varsity and how tough it can be.

“She works so hard,” Davis said of Jackson. “Coming in as a freshman, nothing is easy and nothing is given to you, especially with the talent on this team.

“Wearing the Marian Catholic jersey can be hard, but she worked hard and gained confidence. She has so much talent.”

Davis scored 15 of her team’s 25 points in the first half to get the Spartans going Tuesday.

“Obviously, she has done so much for us,” Murray said of Davis. “Thornton gave a good effort defensively and we got into foul trouble, so Maddie played the point for us.

“That’s a luxury that she can do so much and come in and play well at that spot.”

Two years ago, Davis helped lead the Spartans to their first sectional title since 2014. They won it again last season and are looking forward to a trifecta Thursday.

Playing in the sectional final is becoming a habit she and her teammates enjoy.

“I think it’s a good thing to get used to,” Davis said. “It’s so fun. The atmosphere and the environment is so much fun to be out there with your team.”

Marian Catholic’s Madison Davis (23) starts to drive against the host Wildcats during the Class 3A Thornton Sectional semifinals in Harvey on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. (Jeff Vorva / Daily Southtown)

Davis confirmed the Spartans are eyeing a potential trip to state. The past two seasons, they have gone 0-2 in the supersectional.

“I think we’re going to change that this year,” she said.

Davis also said she was honored by being recognized as the top player in conference.

“I worked hard, but my teammates and coaches did so much for me so I could win it,” Davis said. “None of this is possible without them.”

What makes it even more possible? A talented player in Jackson coming off the bench and producing quality minutes, helping Marian’s depth in the process.

Jackson may have been iffy on the sport at first, but now she’s sold.

“When you play basketball, you can forget about everything,” Jackson said. “When you play basketball, it doesn’t matter what’s going on at home and what’s going on at school.

“You can get away from it all.”

Jeff Vorva is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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