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BOYS BASKETBALL: Late surge aids Momence to narrow win

December 28, 2018

KANKAKEE — The first game of the 69th annual Kankakee Holiday Tournament was a continued testament to the competitiveness of its history, as the Momence Redskins (9-5) topped the Central Comets (6-5) by a score of 69-66 on Thursday.

After 11 turnovers and foul trouble from a few of their starters in the first quarter, the Redskins needed to slow down and make adjustments to Central’s defensive pressure.

“We needed to get a guy in the middle (of the press) give us some passing options”, Momence coach Kevin Ecker said. “Once we were able to get the ball in the middle against the press, we could take it from there.”

After those 11 turnovers in the first quarter and the team trailing 21-11, the Redskins cut down on giving the ball away and slowly cut the deficit by each quarter and committed only 11 turnovers for the remainder of the game.

For Central, the plan was to continue getting on ball pressure and forcing bad passes, which led to turnovers.

“It was an early game, so we wanted energy, and we had a nice rhythm going early”, Central coach Brent Offill said, “(Momence) was struggling to make good passes and we took advantage early.”

The team overall forced 17 of Momence’s 22 turnovers. Sophomore guard Jacob Shoven led the team with 13 points at the half before finishing with 21.

While it was a team effort defensively for the Comets, it was a team effort on the scoring end for Momence. Five players were in double digits, four of them seniors. After trailing 37-27 at the half, those four seniors stepped up and contributed in a big way.

“They understood what they needed to do, understood the corrections they needed to make, and that senior leadership is something that we are very fortunate to have.”

Jalen Williams led the team with 15 points and Lamarius Lillard did all his scoring in the second half especially in the third quarter. Seven of his 12 points came in the third, which lead the Redskins to tie things up with Central at 50. Lillard also added eight rebounds and five assists.

The fourth quarter was back-and-fourth, as each team simply wanted it more until Momence finished the game on an 11-3 run, thanks to some big buckets by Kobey Mazur and Tyion Campbell, who both finished with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Junior Jared Espino also added 11 points for the Redskins.

Late Surge Pushes Momence into the Winner’s BracketThe first game of the 69th annual Kankakee Holiday Tournament was a continued testament to the competitiveness of its history, as the Momence Redskins (9-5) topped the Central Comets (6-5) by a score of 69-66 on Thursday. Momence overcame a deficit as large as 12 points in the first quarter and 14 in the first half, as the team’s internal clock began well after the 9 a.m. start time. After 11 turnovers and foul trouble from a few of their starters in the first quarter, the Redskins needed to slow down and make adjustments to Central’s defensive pressure.“We needed to get a guy in the middle (of the press) give us some passing options”, stated Momence coach Kevin Ecker, “once we were able to get the ball in the middle against the press, we could take it from there.”After those 11 turnovers in the first quarter and the team trailing 21-11, the Redskins cut down on giving the ball away and slowly cut the deficit by each quarter and committed only 11 turnovers for the remainder of the game.For Central, the plan was to continue getting on ball pressure and forcing bad passes, which led to turnovers.“It was an early game, so we wanted energy, and we had a nice rhythm going early”, said Comets’ coach Brent Offill, “they were struggling to make good passes and we took advantage early.”Eight of the nine players who checked in for Central had at least one steal. The team overall forced 17 of Momence’s 22 turnovers. Sophomore guard Jacob Shoven led the team with 13 points at the half, shooting above 50 percent from the field. While it was a team effort defensively for the Comets, it was a team effort on the scoring end for Momence. Five players were in double digits, four of them seniors. After trailing 37-27 at the half, those four seniors stepped up and contributed in a big way.“It was the seniors”, said Ecker when asked about what led the comeback in the second half, “they understood what they needed to do, understood the corrections they needed to make, and that senior leadership is something that we are very fortunate to have.”One of the seniors, forward Jalen Williams led the team with 15 points, knocking down five free throws. Lamarius Lillard did all his scoring in the second half especially in the third quarter, as seven of his 12 points came in the third quarter, which lead the Redskins to tie things up with Central at 50. Lillard also added eight rebounds and five assists.The fourth quarter was back-and-fourth, as each team simply wanted it more until Momence finished the game on an 11-3 run, thanks to some big buckets by Kobey Mazur and Tyion Campbell, who both finished with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Junior Jared Espino also added 11 points for the Redskins.Aside from their defense, a big reason why the Comets were able to keep pace with Momence’s late surge was their ability to not only get to the foul line, but the ability to make their free throws. They finished 17-for-20 at the line, good for an 85 percent success rate. Shoven, who finished with 21 points, was perfect from the free throw line, going 4-for-4. “He’s (Jacob) always a run stopper, said Offill, “we count on him for a big bucket, he did some good things on the defensive end too.” Along with his 21 points, Shoven added eight rebounds and a steal.Central will play Friday at 12 pm against Beecher.Momence will play at 6 pm Friday against Manteno.

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