Momence continues to make history in victory
CLIFTON — Over the course of the season, Momence has displayed a multitude of effective offensive styles that has translated into three 100-point games this season and the right to call itself the area’s top scoring team at 76 points per game.
And on Tuesday night, it was a barrage of 3-point shooting that spurred Momence to a 65-55 victory over Seneca in the Class 2A Central Sectional.
Once again, it was Lamar Lillard who stole the show. He scored 27 points for the second consecutive game. And his stretch at the end of the first half has a lot of people talking.
After falling behind 17-10 early on, Momence regained the lead at the midway mark of the second quarter when Kobey Mazur hit his third 3-pointer of the half and second in as many possessions to put his team ahead 23-22.
That’s when Lamar took over.
The senior swingman made five consecutive 3-point attempts on Momence’s final six possessions of the half in an aerial barrage against Seneca’s signature 1-2-2 defense to give Momence a 25-7 run and a 38-28 halftime lead.
Between Mazur and Lamar, Momence had a streak of seven consecutive made 3-point attempts. They shot 9-of-18 from 3-point land as a team in the first half.
“They were just laying off of me a bit,” Lamar said. “I just had to show them that I could shoot it.”
In the second half, Momence showcased another source of scoring--it’s defense.
Led by Woodrow Hubbard’s three second-half steals, Momence forced six second-half turnovers and effectively converted them into 11 points.
Hubbard joined Momence after transferring from Bishop McNamara last year. Not only did his uniform change in the off-season, but so did his game. That was evident not only with Hubbard’s four steals, but also his eight assists.
“At (McNamara), I didn’t focus on defense as much because of my role coming off the bench,” Hubbard said. “But now I have to play good defense as a starter, and it just comes naturally and I love it.”
Hubbard was far from alone in his defensive effort. Lamarius Lillard yet again showed how many different ways he can impact a game with four blocked shots and a game-high 12 rebounds. For good measure, he completed the double-double with 14 points.
“Because (Lamarius) scores so much, his defense gets overlooked sometimes,” Momence coach Kevin Ecker said. “But he does such a good job of blocking and altering shots, and he was just a man on the glass tonight.”
The win gave Momence its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2001, the only other Sweet Sixteen in school history. And according to Lamar, Momence is far from finished.
“This is something we’ve all always wanted,” Lamar said. “We’re just working hard to keep getting to where we want to be and get down to State.”
Hubbard is the only Momence player with experience past the regional round, as he was a part of McNamara’s team that made the trip to Peoria for State last season. The advice he has for his teammates is simple.
“I tell them it’s going to get harder and harder every game,” Hubbard said. ”(The opposition) doesn’t want its season to end just like we don’t want our season to end, so we have to work harder than them.”
Momence looks to get one step closer to its goal of State on Friday when it faces the winner of Wednesday’s Chicago Corliss and Fieldcrest matchup at Central.