BRAIDWOOD — There were plenty of interesting teams to check out Friday with the start of the 22nd annual Braidwood Shootout, but there’s arguably no squad more intriguing than Momence.
While it’s far too early to tell if Momence is ready for a breakout campaign this coming winter, Friday showcased the potential for Kevin Ecker’s squad as he enters his third season as head coach.
Not only do senior Dazhee Horton and junior Lamar Lillard return to anchor the guard spots, but Momence should see a major boost in the post with the continued development of 6-foot-5-inch forward Lamarius Lillard.
Ecker wasted no time bringing the younger Lillard up to the varsity level last season and he averaged 8.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in his freshman season. Now we’re waiting to see if he’s ready to take the next step.
“We threw him into varsity last year and told him good luck with the big boys,” Ecker said. “He learned a lot. There were some growing pains. Right now, we’re working in his defense. With his size and athleticism, he can turn into a really good defender for us. He just needs to better understand how we want him to defend in the scheme of things.”
Overall, however, the focus for Momence this summer has been on creating more scoring opportunities.
“Not that I don’t think defense is important, but we’ve spent probably 99 percent of time in camp this summer working on offense,” Ecker said. “We’re running a lot shooting drills and working on how to get the ball up the floor faster. The only defense we’ve worked on is our press, which creates more offense for us.”
What’s next for Peotone?
Peotone’s boys basketball program is still in a state of flux following the departure of long time coach Scott Maupin.
To complicate things further, Maupin also served as the school’s athletic director. So with neither position yet filled, Peotone High School principal Tyler Hesh is temporarily guiding the program through the Braidwood Shootout and the summer program.
And while it’s not a long term solution, Hesh said he’s drawing on his coaching experiences from his time at Illini Bluffs to keep the Blue Devils moving forward.
“We’ve added some stuff, but a lot mirrors what coach Maupin did,” said Hesh, who helped Peotone to wins in both of its contests Friday. “We’re not blessed with the big bodies they had last year, so we’ve made a few adjustments offensively. But defensively, we’re still going with Scott has done.”
New blood at Iroquois West
Aaron Harrison was hired to take over for coach Matt Honeycutt at Iroquois West just last week, but the former Kankakee County Soldier is wasting no time digging into his first varsity head coaching job.
“I’m coming in and starting fresh,” he said. “It’s a new beginning for the program. We’re not worried about wins and losses this summer. We’re just trying to figure out what we have.”
The tournament continues Saturday with games beginning at 8 a.m. and running through the championship game at 7 p.m.