Monday, February 15, 2010
Sports NewsMayfield's Mutterings: Illini still in the hunt?

Railers roll past Carbondale 69-46

By Jeff Benjamin

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[February 15, 2010]  It seems like it would have been fitting if Michael Jordan had popped up somewhere at Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium on Saturday night, as the number 23 was all over the place.

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, 20-11.

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, five 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 the floor.

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.

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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 cafeteria.

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



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.

Carbondale (46)

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.

Carbondale 11-14-14-7
Lincoln 20-13-22-14

Other notes:

  • 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 1983-84 season.

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' home court?

[Special report by JEFF BENJAMIN]


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