ON CAMPUS: Remembering Mark Lilley

Jan. 22, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Many Sanford high school sports fans are familiar with Mark Lilley’s work even if you didn’t have the privilege to know the man himself.

Lilley’s official title was general manager for WBFT-TV Channel 46 in Sanford however for the past 10 years he has worn nearly every hat involved in broadcasting, from camera man to producer to color commentator at the local TV station.

Under Lilley’s guidance, WBFT has provided coverage of football, basketball and baseball for Lee County H.S., Southern Lee H.S., Grace Christian and Lee Christian as well as the ACC tournaments, special high school productions and high school graduations. Many athletes, parents and fans have enjoyed returning from a local sporting event and being able to watch it on TV just hours after the final whistle was blown without realizing the hard work and dedication going on behind the scenes by Lilley to get the broadcast edited and on the air in a timely fashion.

In my years of coaching I observed Lilley’s media coverage of high school athletics be envy of opposing teams and was nearly unheard of for a town the size of Sanford. On more than one occasion coaches asked Lilley for a copy of his game film when their own video equipment malfunctioned.

In addition to covering local sporting events, Lilley produced weekly programing from WBFT that included Heart of Carolina Sports, The Carolina Sports Center, Family Talk, Live at Nine, local church services and local gospel music programs. When not at the station he could be found serving as a member of the Board of Directors at Central Carolina Community College for media, sports coverage and scholarship programs.

His generosity often extended even further as he created highlight films for high school teams as well as individual athletes who needed help promoting themselves to college coaches. His highlight DVDs were of professional ESPN quality containing music, stats and visual effects catching the eye of prospective college coaches. While many athletic marketing firms ask top dollar for this service, Lilley often did not ask for any payment but would instead find satisfaction when local athletes were successful in gaining a spot on a college roster.

In my eight years of living in Sanford it has been a pleasure to call Mark Lilley a colleague and close friend. Lilley passed away last Sunday and although WBFT will continue its superb coverage of local athletics in Lee County, it will not be the same without Lilley’s guidance from the sidelines and in the production booth.


All-American Elon receiver Aaron Mellette (SLHS) will play Saturday in the 2013 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Mellette’s South squad led by the NFL’s Detroit Lions staff will face the North squad being coached by the staff of the Oakland Raiders. The Senior Bowl is considered college football’s premier pre-draft event annually featuring the country’s best senior collegiate football stars and top NFL Draft prospects. The game will be televised on the NFL Network with a scheduled 3 p.m. kickoff. nfldraftscout.com has ranked Mellette 12th out of 368 wide receivers available for the NFL Draft and projected him as a possible fifth round pick. A good performance in Saturday’s game might raise Mellette’s stock even farther.


Akeem Richmond (SLHS) and East Carolina (11-6, 2-2) split two games last week downing Houston 89-78 but slipping to Marshall 77-56. In both games Richmond was the leading scorer coming off of the bench. Against Houston he finished as the third-leading scorer for the Pirates with 14 points and adding two assists in just 11 minutes of play while in the loss to Marshall he tied as the second leading scorer with 10 points while adding two rebounds in 15 minutes of play. ECU will be on the road for both games this week traveling to University of Alabama-Birmingham for a 8 p.m. game on Wednesday and then tipping off against University of Texas-El Paso at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Julian Martin (SLHS) and N.C. Wesleyan (10-7, 3-5) finished the week 1-2 suffering defeats to Methodist 85-82 and Averett 88-74 before picking up a victory over Maryville 71-59. Martin’s best game was against Maryville where he scored three points and added a steal and an assist in nine minutes of play. The Battling Bishops will host Methodist at 7 p.m. on Wednesday before observing their 50-year celebration on Alumni Day Saturday with a home game against Ferrum at 4 p.m.

Josh Mellette (SLHS) and Wake Tech (13-5, 3-0) finished the week going 2-0 defeating Pitt CC 90-64 and Patrick Henry CC 88-87. The Eagles will host Lenoir CC on Wednesday before hitting the road to face Guilford Technical CC on Saturday.

Ace Chalmers (SLHS) and Davidson CC (14-5, 0-3) were defeated by Sandhills CC 118-97 but then bounced back to collect an impressive win over UNC’s JV 86-84. Chalmers started at point guard in both games scoring nine points and snagging two rebounds and two steals against Sandhills and then nearly mirrored his first performance with nine points, four rebounds, four steals and an assist against the Tar Heels. The Storm will host Central Carolina CC on Wednesday and then travel to Belmont Abbey on Sunday to compete against its JV squad.

Alex Tucker (LCHS) and Francis Marion University (5-8, 1-6) fell to Montevallo 83-72 while the Patriots game against Armstrong was postponed. Francis Marion will be on the road this week; they played Clayton State yesterday and will face USC Aiken on Saturday.

Elijah Buie, Dwayne McEachin (Grace Christian) and Davis College (4-9, 1-1) has fallen into a two-game losing streak since returning from Christmas, dropping games to North Country CC 47-77 and Schenectady CC 82-100. The Falcons will be on the road for two games this week facing St. John Fisher College JV today and Williamson Trade on Thursday.

Russell Tatum (LCHS) and Peace College (2-7) hosted Randolph yesterday and will travel to Johnson Wales on Saturday for a 3 p.m. game.

Women’s Basketball

Yazzy Butler (SLHS) and UNC Pembroke (8-9, 2-6) dropped both games last week falling to Lander College 63-51 and to Clayton State 67-46. In the loss to Clayton State Butler snagged one steal and one rebound in four minutes of playing time. The Lady Braves played Montevallo yesterday and will travel to Augusta State on Saturday.


All-American and No.1-ranked Mike Williams (SLHS) (24-1) and No. 13-ranked UNC Pembroke (3-2) will return to action Friday and Saturday for the Super Region 1 Duals at Newberry College.