Lillard brothers have Momence dreaming of Peoria

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Momence’s Lamar Lillard (23) controls the ball near the sideline in the first half against Cissna Park, February 17, 2018. | Allen Cunningham/ For the Sun-Times.

A pair of very similarly-named brothers are revolutionizing basketball in Momence. Lamar and Lamarius Lillard have the Redskins playing a fast-paced and aggressive full-court style that has led to a 21-win season and legitimate hopes to advance to the state finals in Peoria next month.

Lamar Lillard, a 6-4 senior, recently became the leading scorer in school history. He’s averaging 22.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.6 steals.

Lillard keyed the Redskins’ second-half comeback on Saturday, but he fouled out with 34 seconds to play. His younger brother Lamarius attempted the game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer. It didn’t fall and Momence lost to visiting Cissna Park 56-54.

Lamar Lillard picked up his fourth foul late in the third quarter, but he was still a force on defense, stealing the ball from the Timberwolves three times in the fourth quarter. He finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and six steals.

“I feel like my intensity brings a lot to the team so I have to stay aggressive and try to play smart,” Lillard said. “That’s just something I’m capable. I have a lot of confidence in myself so I just try to play my hardest and do everything I can.”

Momence coach Kevin Ecker made the difficult smart decision to keep Lillard in the game despite the foul trouble.

“He’s a four-year starter,” Ecker said. “If we go down it will be with him making the decisions. His defensive pressure, along with everyone else’s, allowed us to get back in the game.”

Momence (21-4, 5-2 Sangamon Valley) trailed by 13 late in the third quarter. Cissna Park has two very solid junior post players, 6-7 twins Julian and Christian Stadell. Julian scored six points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Christian finished with 23 points.

“Those twins are tough for anybody to match up against,” Ecker said. “Fortunately we have a couple of guys inside that can bang. We just dug ourselves too big of a hole.”

Lamarius Lillard, a 6-8 sophomore, is averaging 16.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He’s one of the top 40 prospects in the state’s class of 2019 and is on pace to overtake his brother as the school’s all-time leading scorer next season.

“They are a great pair of kids,” Ecker said. “They are very competitive, always trying to make themselves and the team has good as possible. What they bring to the table is something very difficult to duplicate. They have been a great part of this program.”

Lamar Lillard has committed to Lincoln Trail, a junior college in Robinson.

“He’s excited about it and we are excited for him,” Ecker said. “Hopefully it will be a good fit. He’s one of the top players to ever come through this school.”

The win gave Cissna Park (20-8, 7-0) the conference title. The Timberwolves have a chance to do well in the Class 1A state tournament.

Momence is a Class 2A school. The dynamic Lillard brothers give the Redskins an excellent shot in the playoffs. They could eventually play Corliss and Iowa State-bound big man George Conditt in the sectional finals.

“Our goal is to win regionals first,” Lamar Lillard said. “After that we just need to play hard and play smart and go as far as we can.”

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