Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Sports NewsMayfield's Mutterings: Illini adventure continues

Railers take 2nd at Collinsville Schnucks Holiday Classic

By Tom Larey

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[December 31, 2008]  COLLINSVILLE -- The Lincoln Railers played through a long, physically and mentally challenging day, and came away with second place in the Collinsville Schnucks Holiday Classic. The Railers followed up a thrilling overtime win in the semifinal with a determined effort in the final versus Belleville Althoff. Ultimately, however, the Railers succumbed to the Crusaders, who were led by their 6-foot-4, 220-pound scoring machine, sophomore Carson Sonnenberg, who scored 24.

The all-tournament team was paced by Ryan Harrow, the guard from Walton, Ga. He is headed to North Carolina State to play in the ACC. Harrow was voted MVP of the tourney as he broke the all-time tournament scoring record that was set by Conzo Martin in 1988.

Two Railers were on the all-tournament team: Ben Brackney and Kyle Young. The rest of the team consisted of Keith Pickens from Oakville, Lawrence Thomas from Springfield Southeast, Carson Sonnenberg from Althoff, Kendall Kennison from Decatur MacArthur, Glen Rice Jr. from Walton, Ga., Colby Long from Mount Zion and Monte Wilson from MacArthur.

In the semifinal the Railers overcame an improbable 3-point basket at the buzzer by Javier Duren of Oakville to send the game to overtime. Duren was double-teamed, off-balance and got the 26-foot shot away as the buzzer sounded. It could not have been defended better.

In the overtime Jordan Nelson started the Railers with a big 3-pointer, and the Railers made their free throws (6-for-8) down the stretch to prevail by a score of 56-50.

The Railers held a 14-point lead at one time, but Oakville's relentless pressure defense and physical play got them back into the game. The Railers were led by Kyle Young's 13 points, and Louie Schonauer finished with 12. Jordan Nelson was held scoreless for the first 28 minutes but came through with eight clutch points the rest of the way.

The win moves the Railers to 10-1 on the year.

The final versus Belleville Althoff was marred by the collapse of one of the officials at the 5:03 mark of the third quarter. The trainers worked valiantly to revive the official, and he was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. His condition was unknown as of this writing. I know the thoughts and prayers of all the Railer players, coaches and fans go out to the official. The game was delayed almost 25 minutes while the medical staff attended to the referee.

The Railers took an early lead against the much bigger Althoff team and trailed at halftime by a score of 20-19. The Railers held Carson Sonnenberg to only six points by intermission. The second half was all Sonnenberg, as he scored 18 in the period to doom the Railers' effort to gain their first Collinsville title since the three-peat of 1985, '86 and '87.

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Althoff came out scorching hot in the third quarter and hit three straight 3-pointers before the delay, to put the Railers down in a hole from which they could not recover. The Railers played hard to the end, but Althoff, with the relentless Sonnenberg driving the lane seemingly at will, would not let the Railers prevail. The Railers tried to vary their defensive schemes and defend Sonnenberg from many angles, but he would not be denied.

Sonnenberg was the only Crusader to score in double figures as he finished with 24. The Railers were led by Jordan Nelson with 18 and Ben Brackney with 13. Kyle Young finished with nine hard-earned points as he and Brackney battled the 6-foot-7, 275-pound Will Lawson, who will be going to Arizona as an offensive lineman on their football team, and 6-foot-9 Joe Harms, in addition to Sonnenberg.

The Railers take second place in the tourney and stand for the season at 10-2.

The Railers are next in action versus Springfield on Jan. 6 for a rare Tuesday conference game at Roy S. Anderson gym. As always, the game will be broadcast on WLCN-FM 96.3 and simulcast at

Our sympathies go out to Jeff Benjamin, my broadcast partner and the usual writer of this story, on the death of his father. Jeff is well-missed, and my sympathy and the sympathy of his friends in the media, the readers of this paper and Railer fans everywhere go out to him. I hope Jeff will be back for the game on Tuesday.

[Special report by TOM LAREY]

Editor's note: All of us at LDN wish Jeff Benjamin and his family the very deepest of condolences at the loss of his father.

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