By John Rehmer
“We’re excited for this year!” That’s how Momence High School Head Basketball Coach Kevin Ecker summed up his feelings for the upcoming basketball season. He added, “We had a productive summer. We learned a lot of things about ourselves. Now we need to put that into action.”
Ecker has a strong core of returning seniors in Kud’de Bertram, James Stevenson Jr, and Carston Statler. Coach Ecker feels, “We’re going to go however they go. The leadership they provide for us will be the key on how our season goes.”
Altogether, Coach Ecker plans to dress thirteen players in varsity uniforms. Juniors Ruben Aguilar-Sanchez, Brandon Lynch, and brothers Tyrelle and Terence Autman are good bets to round out the starting lineup along with the seniors. They’ll be joined on the team with Easton Newberry, Erick Castillo, Damon Cox, Jevon Sneed, Tim Principio, and Gavin Cantwell. “They all have things we’re going to count on them for,” said Coach Ecker.
While his squad doesn’t have a lot of height, only Stevenson, Cantwell, Lynch, and Aguilar-Sanchez are six feet or more tall, Coach Ecker plans to concentrate on execution and having a more physical presence. “What we’re really going to have to count on is our defense to keep us in games,” observed the coach. He added, “Fortunately we’re a running defense and our team speed causes problems for other teams.”
Momence will again compete in the ten team River Valley Conference. Coach Ecker feels Beecher will be a really good team in loop, along with Grant Park, and Gardner-South Wilmington. He added, “You’ve always got to wonder what St. Anne and Central will pull out.”
Momence will also be facing some tough out of conference foes in Manteno, Reed-Custer, and Peotone. The Redskins will also get in on two shootouts. One of theme will be at Beecher in late January and the other at Indian Creek in February.
“We’re going to count on James (Stevenson jr), Kud’de (Bertram) and Carson (Statler) for a chunk of our scoring, especially early on in the season. They need to be ready to provide that,” warned Coach Ecker.
By publication of this article, Momence will have begun action in the Route 17 Tournament at Dwight. They’re set to face Grant Park on Monday, Earlville on Tuesday, and Dwight on Wednesday. Coach Ecker feels any of those teams along with his Redskins have the potential to win that side of the tournament. Then on Saturday, November 26th, teams from the Dwight bracket of the tournament will play their corresponding opponents from the Streator Woodland bracket. This year that final day is set in Dwight.
Regular season action gets underway for Momence next Tuesday, November 29th, when they travel to Clifton Central. Then it’s finally a night on the home court for Momence on Friday, December 2nd when the Redskins host St. Anne. On Tuesday, December 6th, Momence’s team heads to Crete to take on another River Valley Conference foe in Illinois Lutheran. All of these regular season dates will see JV starts at 5:30, with varsity tip-offs around 7:00.