Monday, December 29, 2008
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Railers start off Holiday Classic with a 68-59 win over Riverview Gardens (Mo.)

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[December 29, 2008]  COLLINSVILLE -- Final exams at Lincoln Community High School finished about a week ago. However, for those wearing the jerseys of the Lincoln Railers on Saturday afternoon, another test was in store. Lincoln was able to pass that test with a hard-fought 68-59 win over the Rams of Riverview Gardens on the opening day of the Schnucks Holiday Classic in Collinsville. Although the passing grade was not an A effort, a win is a win, and that puts the Railers in the winners' bracket, with their next contest Monday afternoon against Eisenhower.

InsuranceLincoln (8-1) gave the Rams the first field goal of the game and then went on a 10-0 run, keyed by the outside shooting of sophomore Jordan Nelson. Nelson tied his career high with 22 points, hitting on nine of 18 shots, including four 3-pointers. Two of those 3s came in that early charge, and it appeared the Railers were off on another big run, putting away the Rams early.

Unfortunately for Lincoln, no one let Riverview Gardens know they were supposed to let the Railers run away with the afternoon contest. The Rams (4-5) answered with their own 8-0 run to knot the game at 10. Too many early turnovers and quick shots allowed Riverview to take a 16-15 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The trademark Lincoln defense reappeared in the second quarter. The Rams were held to only nine points in the second eight minutes. Lincoln ran off another 10 points in a row to take a 25-16 lead midway through the second quarter. Both teams traded baskets until the Railers ran off six in a row before Riverview scored the last basket of the half to go into intermission with Lincoln up 34-25.

Senior Kyle Young scored 11 of his 18 points in the first half, hitting all five of his first-half free throws.


In the third quarter, Lincoln's defense had no answer for the outside shooting of Riverview. The Rams hit five 3-pointers, including three from Kelton Ramsey. Ramsey, scoreless at halftime, showed up with 11 points in the third quarter, drawing Riverview as close as 48-43 late in the period. However, Ramsey's accuracy was matched by 10 from Nelson.

The final period was close throughout, and after a Young basket gave Lincoln a 52-44 lead, Riverview ran off seven in a row to close to 52-51. The teams traded baskets and free throws for the next few scoring possessions, bringing the score to 56-55. Lincoln's defense finally clamped down enough to survive and pull out the victory, scoring six in a row. After allowing a four-point stretch, the Railers scored another six in a row for the final margin.

Ironically, sophomore Nathaniel Smith, who played his last game as a 15-year-old, made his most significant contributions from 15 feet, hitting all eight of his free throws to finish with a career-high 11 points.

This game was won at the charity stripe, especially in the fourth quarter. For the game, Lincoln hit on 23 of 27 tosses, which includes 12-of-13 in the final period. Riverview Gardens finished only 12-of-15 from the line.

Ben Brackney finished with nine points, including a critical 4-of-5 from the line in the fourth quarter. The junior, who had been battling illness, played 20 minutes and seemed to be on his way to getting back to his normal playing ways. Louis (or, as he was introduced by the PA announcer, "Lenny") Schonauer finished with five points and five rebounds (team-high), while Kyle Frick added three and continued to play superior defense. Wes Neece and Alex Anderson played but did not score. However, Neece contributed four rebounds as did Smith.

One of the troublesome numbers from the contest showed the Railers turning the ball over 16 times, while forcing only 18 turnovers from the Rams.

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Lincoln will be back in action Monday on the second day of the Schnucks Holiday Classic in Collinsville. The Railers will be matched up against former Big 12 Conference foe Decatur Eisenhower. Eisenhower defeated Belleville East 67-61 in the opening round. The Railers' contest will start at 2:30 on Monday afternoon. As always, you can catch the game on WLCN-FM 96.3 and here at


LINCOLN (68) -- Nelson 9 0-0 22, Young 5 8-9 18, Smith 1 8-8 11, Brackney 2 4-5 9, Schonauer 1 2-2 5, Frick 1 1-3 3, Anderson 0 0-0 0, Neece 0 0-0 0. Team 19 23-27 68.
3-Point FG: Team 7 (Nelson 4, Schonauer, Brackney, Smith).

Riverview Gardens (59) -- Ramsey 18, T. Williams 12, Anthony 12, Thomas 8, Roberson 6, Nichols 3.

End of first quarter -- Riverview Gardens 16, LCHS 15
Halftime -- LCHS 34, Riverview Gardens 25
End of third quarter -- LCHS 50, Riverview Gardens 43

Other Railer notes:

  • Lincoln shot 49 percent (19 of 39) for the game, while the Rams finished at 39 percent.

  • Lincoln scored 24 points off the Rams' turnovers.

  • In the first nine games, the Railers have allowed only 73 points in the second quarter.

  • Referring back to the 15 for Nathaniel Smith, the sophomore is 15-for-15 from the line in his varsity career. "Happy Birthday" to Smitty on Monday!

  • Smith is the fifth player to top double figures on the season.

  • In the last four games, the top two leading scorers in each game have been a combination of Jordan Nelson and Kyle Young.

  • Young has made eight fewer free throws on the season (49) than Lincoln's opponents have made (57).

[Special report filed by JEFF BENJAMIN]

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