Momence overwhelmed by Corliss
CLIFTON — A uniform snafu led to the Chicago Corliss basketball team facing a bit of a predicament heading into the Class 2A Sectional final game against Momence on Friday.
The Cougars apparently misinterpreted their position on the bracket and brought only their home uniforms to the game, and because Momence did the same, both teams had home jerseys that essentially matched.
Corliss was forced to borrow the road jerseys of the host school, the Central Comets, before hitting the floor.
That problem was really the only one the Cougars (23-4) would face as they rolled to a 67-43 victory against Momence to secure the tournament plaque and a berth in the Illinois State University Super-Sectional. Momence ended one of the finest seasons in school history and equaled its best postseason showing with a Sweet 16 berth and a record of 24-5.
Early on, Momence looked up to the task of dealing with the multi-faceted Corliss attack, as it raced out to an early 9-4 lead, but Corliss climbed back into the game. Woodrow Hubbard’s basket in the waning seconds of the quarter allowed Momence to escape the quarter with a 12-10 lead.
Momence remained game for most of the second quarter, but the presence of Corliss’ 6-foot-10-inch center George Conditt started to wear on Momence on both ends of the floor.
The Iowa State bound big man repeatedly altered Momence shots on the defensive end and forced several rushed shots. On the other end, Momence couldn’t keep him off the glass leading to repeated second-chance scoring opportunities.
“We talked about it in practice, and I thought we were ready for it,” Momence coach Kevin Ecker said. “But he’s just a really good player, and you have to tip your hat to him because he’s able to dictate the game that well when he’s not even near the ball.”
Even so, things were looking up for Momence when Conditt was whistled for his third foul midway through the second quarter. But that was exactly when Corliss’ triumvirate of sensational guards, particularly junior guard Gabriel Bossi, began to assert their will.
“They were just able to get so many hands on balls and got so many easy runouts,” Ecker said. “That probably gave them confidence and allowed them to do what they did.”
Momence did manage to push within three points late in the second quarter, but a deflating 3-pointer from Dhashon Dyson just before the half put Momence behind by six points. As the second half began, Corliss went right for the jugular.
Still lacking Conditt, Corliss scored 16 of the first 18 points of the third quarter, and when the destructive quarter was all tallied up, the Cougars held a 52-29 lead.
Conditt spent most of the quarter on the bench, but the Cougar guards really didn’t need him all that much, as they relentlessly attacked the Momence basket on the offensive end and provided relentless pressure on the defensive end.
“Their defense gave us all sorts of issues,” Ecker said. “We were not able to get to the basket and finish. They were the most active defense we saw all year long, and we were not able to make the adjustment.”
Bossi and Conditt would both score 16 points to lead the Cougars. Kobe Mapp would add 15, and Dyson also chipped in 15. The fearsome foursome accounted for all but five of the Corliss points in the contest.
Hubbard led Momence with 14 points. Lamar Lillard, the school’s recently crowned all-time leading scorer, had a hard time getting going and finished with 11.