Tuesday, November 25, 2008
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Railers start season with impressive win

LINCOLN 60, East St. Louis 37

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[November 25, 2008]  The Lincoln Railers (1-0) opened the 2008-2009 season with a 60-37 victory over East St. Louis (0-1) on the first night of the Eaton Electrical Round Robin Tournament. The opening-night crowd was treated to crisp passing, well-run offensive sets, tough defense and contributions from all nine of the players who saw action. The fans also welcomed back two seniors, Kyle Young and Wes Neece, who didn't log one minute of varsity action last season due to injury and concentration on other sports, respectively.

HardwareAs usual, defense was the key to the initial win of the season. Lincoln held the Flyers to single-digit scoring in three of the four quarters. The Railers used a trademark "Railer Run" at the end of the first and most of the way through the second quarter to take control of the game.

Down 9-7, senior Louie Schonauer scored 10 consecutive points to lead the 21-2 run that gave the Railers a 28-11 lead just before the half. Sophomore Jordan Nelson notched the first five points of the second half, giving the home squad a 20-point advantage at 34-14. From that point on, the Flyers could get no closer the 17.

After the game, coach Neil Alexander was pleased with the overall effort but saw areas that could be improved. One stat that was troubling was the Flyers scoring 17 points on second chances.

Alexander said that rebounding is the hardest thing to do since you have to get down, block out and then carry the weight of the other guy. The coach said he is pleased with the potential of the offense, with eight players who, on any night, could carry the load.

The play of Neece and Young was noted because the Railers brought a toughness to the court that was not there last year. Part of that was inexperience, part of it youth. The physical situation is being addressed as the Railers continue to spend time in the weight room. Monday night showed that the efforts of the players is not being wasted. The teams will only get tougher, and the Railers will certainly need the strength to carry on.


The Railers used balanced scoring as seven of the nine players scored. Jordan Nelson led with 17, Louie Schonauer added 11, and Kyle Young finished with nine (tying his career high). Ben Brackney had a quiet night in scoring with eight, but it was one of those nights when others had the hot hands.

Sophomore Nathaniel Smith finished with seven, but his biggest contribution may have been on the defensive end, as he pressured the ball and altered shots with intensity most schools don't see from their seniors, let alone a player in only his fifth varsity game.

Alex Anderson added six on two long 3-pointers, and Kyle Frick finished with two. Wes Neece did not score, but created steals and was consistently on the floor after every loose ball, including one steal made while lying on his back.

Coach Alexander felt, at least for the first game, that the rotation of Nelson and Neece at the point guard position, worked very well. Cameron Turner also got some minutes, did not score, but did have a block.

The Railers will be back at it on Wednesday as they play host to Danville, a game you can hear on 96.3 FM and on lincolndailynews.com. On Monday, Danville lost to Champaign Centennial 93-60.

In the other game from the tournament on opening night, Peoria Manual handled O'Fallon 72-49.

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Nelson 7 0-0 17, Schonauer 4 1-2 11, Young 3 3-6 9, Brackney 2 3-4 8, Smith 2 2-2 7, Anderson 2 0-0 6, Frick 1 0-0 2, Neece 0 0-0 0, Turner 0 0-0 0, TEAM 21 9-14 60.

3-point FG: Team 9 (Nelson 3, Anderson 2, Schonauer 2, Brackney, Smith).

East St. Louis (37)
Sain 10, Thomas 9, Ramone Rias 6, King 4, Weston 3, Ford 2, Ramez Rias 2, Branson 1.

End of first quarter -- LCHS 13, ESL 9
Halftime -- LCHS 29, ESL 14
End of third quarter -- LCHS 46, ESL 26


Other notes (again references to the tournament stats are from 1999 to current):

  • The win was the 500th at Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium. All-time, the Railers are 500-141 at "The Roy."

  • The win was the 560th (401st at LCHS) for coach Neil Alexander.

  • With his two 3-pointers, Alex Anderson moved into a tie for 16th place (Brandon Booth and Eric Graue) with 78 3s.

  • With the loss Monday night, O'Fallon will have a difficult time defending its championship from last year's tournament. However, it might not be a surprise, since no team has repeated since 1999.

  • The 93 points scored by Centennial is only two away from the most points scored in a game. Lincoln knocked off Rockford Jefferson 95-60 in 2000.

  • Also, this game marked the first time the margin was 33 points. As mentioned in Monday's article, still no 24-point margin. It was close though. There were two 23-point games on Monday.

[Special report by JEFF BENJAMIN]



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