haven't heard that story? Well, after playing a second half the
night before against Tinley Park-Andrew and looking perhaps as bad
as any Lincoln team I have seen in a while, it all carried over the
next night against the Braves. Give Mount Zion some credit. They are
extremely well-coached by Jay Driscoll. They are strong, rugged and
play smart. But the ball our guys were playing was not classic
all changed Friday night. Actually it changed before that. My son
and I stopped by practice a couple times last week, and our guys
were both loose and as focused as I have seen them in a while. Isn't
funny how that correlates to wins?
This time even a late comeback by
Mount Zion wasn't enough to deny the Railers. Lincoln owns
overtimes. And when this one was over, Lincoln was on top 46-45 for
one of the sweetest wins I can ever remember. I don't know if I've
ever heard Railer coach Neil Alexander as pleased on a post-game
show as he was on Friday night.
Lincoln will now advance to the
sectional round, where they will be pitted against Champaign
Centennial. The Chargers upset the No. 1-seeded Champaign Central
squad. The area basketball experts will all point out that Lincoln
is too small and not strong enough to upend the Chargers. Our tip of
the week -- don't bet against Lincoln!
End of the world?
I hardly think so. I've been telling
you loyal readers since the first Big Ten game of the year that Thad
Matta could flat-out coach and that the Buckeyes were somewhat
underrated. I felt they were capable of not only beating us, but of
beating anyone! For all of you suckers who wanted Illinois to lose
one -- no, that said they must lose one before the Big Dance -- I
hope you are happy now! However, in the grand scheme of things is
this really a major calamity? I think not.
The Illini had already won the Big
Ten title "outright," and so in that regard this game was
meaningless. Before that, they had gone a perfect 14-0 in the
non-conference portion of the schedule and beat a lot of impressive
teams along the way, including the former No. 1 team, the Wake
Forest Demon Deacons.
And while we're discussing No. 1
teams, the Illini should STILL be No. 1 this week! One loss should
not derail them and diminish what this team has accomplished. Sure,
the media has a chance to elevate their darlings, the North Carolina
Tar Hills, and I expect that they might; but they would be wrong to
do so. They've been wrong before, so I won't be shocked if it
However, don't worry about the
Illini. The sun came up today, and there are still games to be
played. This is one of the strongest-willed, toughest-minded groups
of kids that I have ever been around, and they will respond
positively to this situation. Mark it down.
One last thing on this topic… I just
got a call from Bobby Straface. For those unfamiliar with him, he
was the star of McNeese State's team a few years ago. He finished
his career playing both baseball and basketball at Lamar University.
Anyway, to make a long story longer, I conned him into coming up and
helping us run the Lincoln Christian College summer basketball camps
(if you're looking for the top hoops camp in this area and there's a
better one than LCC's, I haven't seen it), and so some of you area
residents got to meet Straface.
At any rate, he says that Illinois'
loss is the final piece. He says regardless of what you heard, the
pressure on the kids over the last three to four weeks was immense.
He says losing now takes the weight of the world off their
shoulders, and now they can just go out and do what they do best. I
always liked that Starface kid, and I think he is right about this
[to top of second column in this article]
Lincoln College to championship game
The Lincoln College Lynx advanced to
the championship of Region 24 with a stirring 67-63 semifinal
victory over Rend Lake. With a sparkling record of 25-7 the Lynx
will host Shawnee at Lincoln Christian College tonight at 7. At
stake is a trip to the National Juco Tournament later this week in
Danville. Good luck, Lynx!
The Lady Lynx saw their season come
to an end at the hands of John Wood at Illinois College. Lincoln
finishes an improved campaign at 18-15.
Illinois State, on the other hand…
…has seen its season come crashing
to the ground. They lost something like six of their last seven
heading into the MVC tourney, and once they got there, it was a
rematch with the Creighton Bluejays. I pleaded with the MVC just
like Apollo Creed did with anyone that would listen after the first
Balboa fight. "Ain't gonna be no rematch… don't want one." I was
hoping to be wrong, but I had a bad feeling about playing them
again. The Bluejays pulled away early in the game, and the Redbirds
couldn't forge any kind of a comeback whatsoever. It was a sad way
for the season to end, but they finished with a winning record
nonetheless -- a tribute to senior Gregg Alexander and the other
National League kiss of death
According to ESPN baseball expert
Peter Gammons, the National League pennant will once again run
through St. Louis. Talk about the kiss of death. Has he forgotten
how tough Houston was the last month of last season? And what about
Los Angeles, San Francisco and Atlanta? And shouldn't he also have
the Mets on his radar screen?
I'm not fallen for the bait. I STILL
see the Chicago Cubs' starting rotation as the best in baseball. And
even though I don't work for ESPN, I was always taught that the edge
has to go to the team with the best starters, and that's the Cubs
I do like the Cardinals' everyday
lineup. I like their pitching if it stays healthy. However, I'm not
yet convinced that the Birds are better than they were a year ago.
Heck, I'm not even sure that they are as good as they were last
season. But whatever, I'm ready for the games to begin as soon as
…hockey action? That's right. Thanks
to Dr. Robert Kidd, many of us representing Lincoln Elementary
District 27 got to take in a Peoria Rivermen game yesterday
afternoon at the Civic Center (which, BTW, is a great venue for
hockey, while not so much for hoops). The Rivermen played great
defense and threw three goals on the board in the third period to
beat Trenton, N.J. (I think it was Trenton?) 3-0! I know they're
going through a reorganization and that they haven't had a very good
season, but minor league hockey is STILL great entertainment for the
entire family. I know our family enjoyed it.
Angels at nationals
Congrats to LCC's Lady Angels for
taking ninth place in the women's basketball nationals in
"FANdamonium" salutes West Lincoln-Broadwell…
…the state 7A boys basketball
champions. Be sure to catch Wolverine coach Brian Brackney and the
boys later this week on CITV-5.
There's lots of other sports news,
but I'm out of time. Have a great week, everybody!