It would have been hard to match the defensive first quarter from
Tuesday night against U-High. Holding a team scoreless is difficult
to do and, after Kyle Young put the Railers on the board, an early
Bloomington basket put that dream to bed.
Action was back and forth
in a very spirited first quarter amid very streaky scoring from the
Railers. Young scored Lincoln's first six points, while sophomore
Nathaniel Smith hit the next five to pull Lincoln from down one at
7-6 to up 11-7.
Smith, fresh off hitting nine of the 15 shots in the 3-point
shooting contest to advance to the next round, brought that
confidence into the game and hit a couple of big shots to halt the
Raiders' momentum. Lincoln was able to hang on to a tight 11-9 lead
at the end of the first quarter.
Bloomington quickly grabbed the lead back at 12-9, but the streaks
continued as Jordan Nelson joined in the scoring column, hitting for
six in a row -- none, surprisingly, from behind the arc. His run put
the Railers back up 17-12. Bloomington refused to go away, and two
3-point plays saw the Railers fall behind again at 18-17.
As closely played as the contest had been to that point, very few
at the Robert Franks Sports Complex would have believed the lead
Bloomington held at that point would be their last of the game and
their season. Junior Ben Brackney, who had been on the bench since
picking up two early fouls in the first three minutes of the game,
also got on a roll.
Brackney scored six in a row by draining two 3-pointers and
putting Lincoln up 23-18. Layups by Jordan Nelson and Louie Schonauer extended the lead at halftime to 27-18. The potential was
there for more at the end of the half, but an attempted 3 from Schonauer fell
short after Schonauer was hammered in the corner, but, to the
disbelief of the coaching staff as well as the Railer Nation in
attendance, no call was made.
The third quarter was certainly not a thing of beauty, but the
intensity picked up on both sides, especially Bloomington, as they
tried to prevent their season from ending. Only eight points
scored in the quarter, but six of those came from the
Railers (28-4). The only 3 of the night from Jordan Nelson, a basket from
Kyle Young and a free throw from Wes Neece made up the points for
Lincoln, while the Raiders were held to a single basket from James
Monroe, the game's leading scorer with 15.
forced Bloomington (12-14) into turnover after turnover, including a
nice play from Jordan Nelson, drawing a charge as the Raiders tried
to get back into the contest.
Bloomington tried to play more physically. However, their
aggression put Lincoln on the free- throw line very early in the
contest. The Railers were shooting one-and-bonus starting at the
2:06 mark of the third quarter.
Bloomington's top player, D'Mitri Riggs, was a topic of
discussion leading into the game. However, the Lincoln defense
clamped down on Riggs, holding him to just five points in the first
half and only four free throws in the second half. "We knew where he
was out there," coach Neil Alexander said. "We left the middle open
a little bit to pay more attention to Riggs. That may have meant we
gave up some in the middle, maybe too much, but it kept Riggs in
The Railers carried a 33-20 lead into the fourth quarter, and it
seemed that as long as they took care of the ball and made their free
throws, it would be on to Decatur next week.
Oh, but wait, did somebody say make free throws?
One of the areas that had been a concern over the past few games was
free-throw shooting. One could say that aspect cost the Railers both
games this season against Southeast, and they were only shooting 45
percent over the past two games. Some may doubt Bloomington coach
Jamie Codron's strategy, but Lincoln was going to have to prove it
at the line.
[to top of second column]
And prove it they did. Lincoln hit 16-of-18 from the line in the
fourth quarter and 17-of-21 for the game to put the Railers
into the win column. Ben Brackney, Nathaniel Smith and Louie Schonauer combined to go 15-for-16 in the quarter to help put
the Railers into a midweek contest with Decatur MacArthur.
This was a total team effort. Two down and five to go for the
ultimate prize. You can rest assured, however, that this team is
not going to worry about anyone except Decatur MacArthur.
Jordan Nelson and Ben Brackney led the way with 12, while Kyle
Young played his usual solid game with 10 points and a nice
defensive effort inside and on the boards. Louie Schonauer and
Nathaniel Smith chipped in with nine, while Wes Neece added the
other point. Kyle Frick didn't score but played a huge role
defensively, especially when Brackney left early with foul
trouble. Alex Anderson was also held scoreless, but he, too, did
a nice job on defense, keeping check of the much quicker
Let's not forget about the crowd. An unbelievable turnout by the Railer Nation turned the gym at Bloomington High School into
what seemed like Roy S. Anderson North. A large turnout of
fans, parents and the ever-entertaining student section (that
is a compliment, trust me) must have made Bloomington feel as
though they had made the trip on I-55 for the contest. Great job,
fans, and hope to see all of you and more in Decatur.
Lincoln will be in action on Wednesday night in the sectional
semifinal at Decatur Eisenhower High School. Their opponent will
be the Generals of Decatur MacArthur. The contest is
scheduled to tip at 7:30 p.m. and, as always, you can catch the
game on WLCN-FM 96.3 and here at
LINCOLN (53) --
Nelson 5 1-2 12, Brackney 2 6-6 12, Young 5 0-1 10, Schonauer 2
5-6 9, Smith 2 4-4 9, Neece 0 1-2 1, Turner 0 0-0 0, Frick 0 0-0
0, Anderson 0 0-0 0, Coyne 0 0-0 0. Team 16 17-21 53.
Team 4 (Brackney 2, Nelson, Smith).
Bloomington (40) --
Monroe 15, Riggs 9, Dunn 7, Burge 6, Nickrent 3.
End of first quarter -- LCHS 11, Bloomington 9
Halftime -- LCHS 27, Bloomington 18
End of third quarter -- LCHS 33, Bloomington 20
As mentioned earlier, Nathaniel Smith hit
nine shots in the 3-point shooting contest to advance to the next round. Cameron
Turner and Brant Coyne did not make enough to move on with
Our condolences go out to Wes Neece, his parents, Scott and Amy Neece, and his sister, Abby, on the passing of his grandfather
(Amy's father) Donald Payne. Mr. Payne died Thursday at
his home. More information can be found
in the obituary section here at
[Special report by JEFF BENJAMIN]