Lincoln's leading scorer was Jordan Nelson with 23 points as the
Railers picked up their 23rd win of the season with -- all together
now -- a 23-point win over visiting Carbondale, 69-46. As you've probably
caught on by now, both the numbers in the final score are evenly
divisible by 23.
It was a night when the Railers controlled the early stages of the
first quarter, scoring the first seven points of the game and
eventually pulling out to an 18-5 lead. Junior Nathaniel Smith
scored the first two baskets for Lincoln, all within a seven-second
span, thanks to a layup, steal by a teammate and another layup.
Smith scored 11 points in the first quarter, helping the Railers
jump out to the early 13-point advantage. But, like Lincoln, it was
the outside shooting of Carbondale that got them back into the
contest. The Terriers' last three makes of the quarter were from
behind the arc as they trailed by nine going into the second quarter,
Carbondale kept up the outside shooting as Connor Wheeler and
Judious Kizeart connected from the outside to quickly cut the
Lincoln lead down to three at 20-17. A basket from Nelson and free
throw from Smith pushed the lead back to six, but another from long
distance brought the game back to three at 23-20.
At that point the Railer defense stepped up and took away
the clean looks for Carbondale's 3-point shooters, and it was as
close as they would get the rest of the evening. The Terriers hit
six of their 15 attempts from 3-point range in the first half
but were shut out from there in the second half in six attempts.
As Smith controlled the first quarter, both scoring and on the
boards, the second belonged to Nelson. The long-range sniper scored
nine of his game-high 23 in the second quarter, which included his
second trip to the line after being fouled attempting a 3-pointer.
Sophomore Austin Kirby ended the Lincoln scoring in the first
half with a 3 of his own from just to the left of the top of the
key to send the Railers into halftime with a 33-25 lead. All this
while senior Ben Brackney was held scoreless in the first half.
By the way, hats off to the gentlemen who participated in the
halftime show on Saturday night. It was the annual dance as the
ladies on the pom squad danced with their fathers. Trust me, as the
father of a 9-year-old who wants to be on the squad as she gets
older, my two left feet are not looking forward to that, but at the
same time hoping nothing keeps me from being there for her.
Speaking of being there, Lincoln's 3-point shooting was there at
the start of the second half. The first six baskets for the Railers
(23-3) coming out of the locker room were from behind the arc: two
from Brackney and Smith and one each from Nelson and Brant Coyne.
By the time the barrage was over and each Railer starter had hit
at least one 3-pointer, Lincoln, in shutting down the outside
shooting of Carbondale, while finding their stroke from long range,
had stretched the lead to 51-33.
As it seemed a different Railer was taking a turn in taking over
offensively, the third belonged to Brackney. Scoreless at halftime,
Brackney was in double figures by the end of the quarter with 10 of
his 14 points on the night, including the last four for the Railers
in the quarter. With Lincoln leading 55-37, Carbondale was able to
score six in a row early into the fourth quarter.
With the contest 55-43, Lincoln put the game away with a 12-0 run in
the fourth as all but two players on the roster got into the
contest. Jordan Gesner's layup in traffic ended the scoring as the
Railers picked up the 69-46 win.
A good, balanced night from the Railers -- described by my broadcast
partner Tom Larey as a "good, workmanlike effort" -- saw the Railers
who were not scoring, contributing in other ways.
Nelson led the team
with 23 points, while Smith finished with 21 points and one rebound
shy of a double-double. Brackney ended the night with 14 points,
rebounds and a team-high six assists. Coyne added two 3-pointers,
while Kirby scored three and Gesner chipped in two.
Lincoln's defense held Carbondale to 39 percent shooting and forced
13 turnovers for the game, while the offense hit on 53 percent from
Other scores from around the Central State 8 saw Glenwood defeat
Rochester 57-44, Quincy got by Jacksonville 53-44, and Jerseyville
beat Taylorville 59-40.
[to top of second column]
The next Railer contest is Friday night as Sacred Heart-Griffin pays a visit to
Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium in Lincoln's final home game of the
season. The Railers will be honoring the four senior players on
Senior Night, and it is also Fan Appreciation Night, which includes
food after the game and the players signing autographs in the
As mentioned by PA announcer Steve Sauer, make sure to wear white,
as Lincoln is looking for "whiteout" conditions in the gym on Friday
night. As always, you can keep up with the latest on the Railers
here at www.lincolndailynews.com.
Nelson 7-13 6-7 23, Smith 7-10 4-5 21, Brackney 6-14 0-0 14, Coyne
2-3 0-0 6, Kirby 1-1 0-0 3, Gesner 1-1 0-0 2, Turner 0-2 0-0 0,
Olson 0-0 0-0 0, Hays 0-0 0-0 0, Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Bowlby 0-0 0-0 0,
Green 0-1 0-0 0. Team 24-45 10-12 69. 3-point field goals 11-25
(Smith 3-4, Nelson 3-8, Coyne 2-3, Brackney 2-7, Kirby 1-1, Turner
0-2). Rebounds 28 (Smith 9), assists 17 (Brackney 6), steals 7
(Smith 3), turnovers 8.
Kizeart 11, Wheeler 11, Reno 10, Neal 9, Day 3, Davis 2. Team 17-44
6-9 46. 3-point field goals 6-21 (Wheeler 3, Kizeart 2, Neal).
Rebounds 22, assists 9, steals 5, turnovers 13.
Jordan Nelson is now 11th all-time in scoring with 1,190 points,
passing Larry Lessen. He is only 47 points from reaching the top 10.
Nelson is also climbing the
list of 3-pointers made with 214,
just three behind Matt Schick for second.
Ben Brackney is
eighth in games played with 97. With his next game,
he will tie Alex Anderson for seventh.
Nelson became the 20th member of the 500-point (in a season) club. Brackney, with 21 more points, will become the 21st member. As a
side note, with his 503 points this season, who is Nelson just ahead
in season points scored? Ben's dad, Brian, who scored 501 in the
IHSA tournament information:
The pairings have been released for the upcoming 3A state
tournament. The Railers are the No. 1 seed in the Mount Zion
Regional and will play the host Braves at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March
2. A win in that contest would put Lincoln in the regional
championship against either Decatur MacArthur or Decatur Eisenhower
on Friday, March 5, again at 7:30 pm.
A regional title would send Lincoln to the Champaign Sectional with
their first opponent the winner of the Jacksonville Regional. The
four Springfield schools and the host Crimsons make up that
regional. Should Lincoln win that game on Wednesday, March 10,
they would advance to that Friday's sectional final against the
survivor of the regional winners from Pontiac and Danville, most
likely to be defending state champion, Champaign Centennial. Oh, and
did I mention that the sectional is being played on the Chargers'
[Special report by JEFF