Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Sports NewsMayfield's Mutterings: Illini adventure continues

LINCOLN 68, Decatur Eisenhower 45

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[December 30, 2008]  COLLINSVILLE -- The first half of Monday's game against Eisenhower certainly did not start like the Railers wanted. A couple of missed shots and a turnover gave the Panthers a 5-0 lead. After that, Lincoln turned things around, and in a big way. The Railers used a 37-6 run that lasted through the second quarter en route to a 68-45 victory. The win moves the Railers into the championship semifinals on Tuesday against Oakville (Mo.), who knocked off Springfield Southeast 63-61.

The past few games have not featured much from Ben Brackney. The junior has been battling illness for a couple of weeks. However, on Monday, it was Brackney making the Panthers sick as he drained 6-of-7 from 3-point range in the first half, including 4-of-4 in the first quarter. Brackney finished with a career-high-tying 20 points, all in the first 16 minutes.

He wasn't the only one shooting well for Lincoln (9-1). The Railers went into intermission hitting on 15-of-21 shots, including 10-for-15 from long range. Brackney ended the game shooting 7-of-14, 6-for-8 from 3-point range. He also tied for the team lead with six rebounds.

It was another career game from sophomore Nathaniel Smith. Smith, celebrating his 16th birthday, finished with 13 points and six rebounds, all without turning the ball over on the day. He missed only one shot from the field, going 5-for-6 (3-for-4 on 3-pointers).

Smith also had a big basket to end the third quarter as he scored on a rebounded air ball at the buzzer. "He is solid out there," coach Neil Alexander said. "He does what we ask him to do and he does it well."


Even with a 23-point win, Alexander was not happy with the second-half performance. "We are still stressing to the kids they have to play 32 minutes, not just 16," he said.

In fact, Eisenhower won the second half 27-26. However, the big advantage in the first gave the Railers enough cushion to pull away with the win. The closest Eisenhower closed to in the second half was 55-38 at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Typically, when it was needed, the Railers used a 7-0 run to thwart any hopes for the Panthers (4-6).

Senior Kyle Young was not relied on as much as the past few games but still finished with 12 points and two rebounds. Jordan Nelson, coming off 22 in the opener on Saturday, added nine. Nelson missed a few minutes with a bloodied nose but returned to action. Louis Schonauer continued to contribute, if not as much on the scoreboard. The senior scored seven and had a team-high four assists with only one turnover.

Alex Anderson scored five, including a 3, and passed on three assists. Kyle Frick continued his solid play with two points and three assists, while Wes Neece did not score but handed out four assists and was part of the defensive quintet that stymied the Panthers at the end of the first quarter in one of the better defensive possessions of the season. Eisenhower had the ball for over a minute as the Railers befuddled them, before turning it over without getting a shot.

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Lincoln finished the game shooting 58 percent (26-of-45), including 55 percent (12-of-22) from 3-point range. Eisenhower shot 43 percent (18-of-42) while not finding much success from long range, making only 3-of-13 (23 percent).

The Railers will be back in action on Tuesday afternoon at 1 as they take on Oakville of Missouri. Of course, it is a game you can catch on WLCN-FM 96.3 and right here at lincolndailynews.com. A win by the Railers puts them in the championship game at 8 p.m. If they lose, Lincoln would play for third place at 6:30.


End of first quarter -- LCHS 18, Eisenhower 7
Halftime -- LCHS 42, Eisenhower 18
End of third quarter -- LCHS 53, Eisenhower 35

LINCOLN (68) -- Brackney 7 0-0 20, Smith 5 0-0 13, Young 5 2-3 12, Nelson 4 0-0 9, Schonauer 2 1-2 7, Anderson 2 0-0 5, Frick 1 0-0 2, Neece 0 0-0 0. TEAM 26 4-5 68.
3-point field goals: 12 (Brackney 6, Smith 3, Schonauer, Nelson, Anderson)

Eisenhower (45) -- Davis 16, Washington 12, Oldham 6, Eubanks 3, Von Nordeck 2, Hiser 2, Halliburton 2, Greer 2

[Special report by JEFF BENJAMIN]

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