Saturday, January 17, 2009
Sports NewsMayfield's Mutterings: Illini adventure continues

Lincoln 55, Lanphier 48

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[January 17, 2009]  Self-control. Lincoln coach Neil Alexander must have had a month's worth when he came up for his postgame interview on WLCN.

HardwareThe first question posed to him was looking for an explanation of how a Lanphier team that was held to only seven points in the first half could be allowed to score 41 in the second half and almost upset the eighth-ranked Railers. Coach Alexander's response spoke louder than anything when he said ... simply nothing. The disappointment was all over his face, just as the defensive struggles were all over the court in the second half as the Railers survived Lanphier 55-48.

It was a win, but, as Alexander stated, "Sometimes a win isn't really a win." It was apparent that he was getting frustrated with a team that still can't put together a full 32 minutes of solid basketball.

Lincoln (13-2, 6-0), whose success is predicated on good, solid, fundamental team defense, looked on the way to another easy win, thanks to allowing only four points in the first quarter and then one less in the second. Seven points at half -- ah, just another easy win.

Not so fast, as Lanphier emerged from intermission with more energy and fire than the Railers. The Lions outscored Lincoln 41-34 in the second half, cut a 16-point game down to two and had a chance to tie the game late before the Railers scored the final five points of the contest.


After the teams traded baskets early, things quickly turned in Lincoln's favor. A 14-0 run from late in the first quarter to midway through the second quarter put the Railers up 17-4. A key to the early run was the defense holding Central State Eight conference scoring leader Karl Madison scoreless until just over three minutes left in the half. Madison scored his only basket of the first half with 3:10 remaining.

Lanphier's offensive woes were aplenty as Cheldon Brown was the only other Lion to score for a team that missed 17 of the 20 shots they took in the first 16 minutes. The 21-7 lead the Railers enjoyed at the half could have been larger, but the offense certainly wasn't hitting on all cylinders, going 8-for-25 (32 percent) and just 3-of-13 from long range.

The key to the run from Lanphier came in the second half as the Lions switched from zone to man, and the physical, in-your-face play seemed to rattle the Railers. All that being said, Lincoln enjoyed their biggest lead of the night at the end of the third quarter, 40-24.

Justin Smith scored his first six points of the night in the third but was just getting warmed up for his role in the comeback. Smith hit three times from long range in the fourth quarter to finish with a game-high 17 points. Jalen McBride added an inside presence, 12 points and eight rebounds, that helped bring Lanphier (5-11, 3-2) closer and closer down the stretch.

The Lions used an 11-2 run of their own to cut the lead to 50-48 on a Karl Madison free throw. Madison missed the second, and the rebound grabbed by McBride slipped away, as did the final hopes for Lanphier. Lincoln was able to get a layup from Louis Schonauer and a free throw each from Ben Brackney and Nathaniel Smith to seal the win

Again, it wasn't pretty, but the victory keeps the Railers undefeated in conference play.

For the second game in a row, the Railers were led in scoring by Louis Schonauer. The senior connected on four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points. Kyle Young quietly had a solid game, finishing with 13 points, seven rebounds and a team-high four assists. Another key to the comeback by Lanphier was holding Young scoreless in the fourth quarter.

Jordan Nelson finished with seven points, while Ben Brackney contributed a good floor game. Brackney also ended with seven points, put did a majority of the ball-handling, working against the Lanphier pressure, and hit double figures in rebounds with 10. Sophomore Nathaniel Smith was good as usual, chipping in six points, three rebounds and two steals.

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Wes Neece played only about six minutes but scored his four points to start the fourth quarter. Alex Anderson added two but continued to struggle from behind the arc, missing all four attempts. Kyle Frick had a typical game, scoring only two, but adding three rebounds, three steals and making key plays on defense.

The season is approximately half over and, based on his comments, Alexander is wanting to see improvement from his team. Yes, the team is 13-2, ranked eighth and has yet to lose in conference. However, this team won't be measured by its record in mid-January; it will be how far it can go in March. If the consistency of the defense is not there, no one is sure how far into March it can or will go.

The junior varsity for Lincoln held off a late charge as well by knocking off Lanphier 56-46.

Lincoln will be back in action tonight as the Railers finish out the weekend homestand by taking on LaSalle-Peru. The contest will tip at 7:30 and, as always, you can catch the game on WLCN-FM 96.3 and here at


LINCOLN (55) -- Schonauer 5 0-0 14, Young 6 1-3 13, Nelson 2 2-2 7, Brackney 1 5-6 7, Smith 2 2-4 6, Neece 2 0-0 4, Frick 1 0-1 2, Anderson 1 0-0 2. Team 20 10-16 55.
3-point FG: Team 5 (Schonauer 4, Nelson).

Lanphier (48) -- Smith 17, McBride 12, Madison 9, Brown 8, Coleman 2.

End of first quarter -- LCHS 11, Lanphier 4
Halftime -- LCHS 21, Lanphier 7
End of third quarter -- LCHS 40, Lanphier 24

Other Railer notes:

  • In the last two games, the Railers have given up 51 points in the fourth quarter alone.

  • The free throw missed in the second quarter by Nathaniel Smith was the first of his varsity career. He missed the second one in the fourth quarter.

  • If the McBride sounds familiar, yes, it is the younger brother of former Lion Rich McBride.

  • This is the third time Louis Schonauer has led the team in scoring. Jordan Nelson and Kyle Young have done it five times, while Ben Brackney has done it twice.

  • Over the past four games, the Railers are only shooting 66 percent (41-of-62) from the free-throw line.

  • The four 3-pointers ties a career high in a game for Louis Schonauer. It's the fourth time he has accomplished it (last done Dec. 30 in the game with Oakville).

[Special report by JEFF BENJAMIN]

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