Saturday, January 31, 2009
Sports NewsMayfield's Mutterings: Illini progress report

Railers lose (OT) contest to Southeast 63-60

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[January  31, 2009]  SPRINGFIELD -- The Lincoln Railers and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich may not have much in common. However, after Friday night, there is certainly a connection, as both left the capital city this week with a very sour taste in their mouths. The Railers' bitter pill was delivered in the form of a 63-60 overtime loss to rival Southeast, knotting the two squads at the top of the Central State Eight.

RestaurantMike Chandler had the only two baskets for Southeast in the extra session, although he may as well have been heading to Buffalo with all the shuffling he was doing. Lawrence Thomas and Jacobby Anderson hit all four of the free throws for the Spartans after going only 9-of-20 from the line in regulation.

Kyle Young scored the only points for the Railers in overtime, a layup to tie the game at 57 and then a meaningless 3 at the buzzer to provide the final margin.

Lincoln can look at missed opportunities as to why this one ended up in the loss column.

Southeast turned the ball over four times in the final 90 seconds of regulation -- and free throws, oh, those free throws.

Lincoln came into the game hitting on 74 percent of their free throws, including 83 percent over their last six games. However, in the fourth quarter and overtime, the free-throw line turned into the Bermuda Triangle as they connected on only three of 10 charity tosses. If you take away the pair from Jordan Nelson, the others at the line hit only one of eight (Schonauer 1-4, Brackney 0-2, Young 0-2) in the final 12 minutes.


"We talk about it every year that free throws will win you four or five games a season and, tonight, this should have been one of them," a disappointed Lincoln coach Neil Alexander said after the game.

What also had to be disappointing was the fact the team squandered a 13-point lead that had actually grown to 16 before Southeast mounted their comeback.

"We had a 13-point lead at the half and then come out and just give them a layup to start," Alexander said. "It didn't take long for the momentum to go their way."

Heading into the contest, it was obvious there was a definite contrast in styles: the Railers willing to be patient on offense, while Southeast likes to get up and down, with the more shots, the better.

You would have thought the roles reversed in the first quarter as the Railers (19-3, 9-1) jumped out to early leads of 6-0 and 16-4.

Senior Kyle Young scored eight of Lincoln's first 11 points and seemingly had no equal down low. His teammates made every effort to find him when available, and he delivered.

Once Young had established himself on the inside, it was the long-range shooting that took over, and the Railers' final three baskets all came from behind the arc (Schonauer, Nelson and Brackney), pushing them out to a surprising 22-9 at the end of the first quarter.

The other first-quarter key was holding down conference scoring leader Lawrence Thomas. Thomas did not mark the scorebook until early in the second quarter and went into halftime with only four points.

However, Thomas scored seven in the third as the Spartans (14-5, 9-1) began inching closer to Lincoln. After the Railers took their biggest lead of the night at 41-25, Southeast closed the quarter on a 7-2 run to find themselves down by only eight heading into the fourth quarter.

Kyle Young scored two baskets wrapped around a Southeast bucket to keep the Railer lead at 10. Southeast then scored seven in a row, and 12 of the next 14, to tie the game at 49. Southeast took their first lead of the night at the 2:12 mark, 51-50, and Lincoln was never able to get back in front.

Overtime was forced when Jordan Nelson hit a 3 from well behind the top of the key to knot the game at 55. The Railers had one more possession, but a missed shot from Ben Brackney turned into a Southeast rebound that almost resulted in a miracle finish on the more-than-half-court fling that hit the front of the rim.

The speed and quickness from Southeast was difficult for the Railers to handle, especially in the second half. The Railers were also forced into many offensive predicaments where spacing became an issue, allowing the Spartans' speed to be that much more effective.

The game was also physical, maybe too physical, as a lot of rough-and-tumble play was allowed down low, but simple hand-checking was whistled. Listing all the odd/questionable calls would take up a lot more space on this site than the server may be able to handle.

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All that being said, it was a game the Railers could have won and should have won.

There are seven games between now and the regular-season finale at home against these same Spartans. I'm sure a lot of fans have already circled their calendars.

However, I'm also sure the Lincoln coaching staff won't let the team look that far ahead. When asked if this is the type of game that could carry over to Saturday's tilt versus Canton, coach Neil Alexander refreshed all our memories: "Well, it carried over last year and look what happened," a reference to the Railers' 42-33 loss last season at Canton, the day after a contest with Southeast.

Kyle Young led the Railers on Friday night with 21 points, followed closely by Jordan Nelson's 19. Ben Brackney was the only other Railer to score in double figures, with 12. Louie Schonauer added four, while Wes Neece and Kyle Frick each added a basket.

The Lincoln JV also had a tough night, dropping a 64-37 game in the evening's opener.

Lincoln will be in action again on Saturday as Canton comes to Roy S. Anderson gymnasium. The contest is scheduled to tip around 7:30 p.m. and, as always, you can catch the game on WLCN-FM 96.3 and here at


LINCOLN (60) -- Young 8 4-6 21, Nelson 7 2-2 19, Brackney 5 0-2 12, Schonauer 1 1-4 4, Neece 1 0-0 2, Frick 1 0-0 2, Smith 0 0-0 0, Anderson 0 0-0 0. Team 23 7-14 60.
3-point FG: Team 7 (Nelson 3, Brackney 2, Schonauer, Young).

Jacksonville (63) -- Thomas 17, Anderson 16, Chandler 15, R. Smith 5, Doss 4, Crawford 2, Kincaid 2, Hill 2.

End of first quarter -- LCHS 22, Southeast 9
Halftime -- LCHS 33, Southeast 20
End of third quarter -- LCHS 43, Southeast 35
End of regulation -- LCHS 55, Southeast 55

[Special report by JEFF BENJAMIN]


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