Friday night, another milestone for Nelson as
his 3 leading into halftime put him into a second-place tie with
Matt Schick for career 3s made. As far as the game went, the
long-range launch finished off a 19-3 run by the Railers, giving
them a 20-point lead at the half, en route to a 67-45 win over SHG
in the final home game of the season.
It was also Senior Night as the Railer fans saw
the final home appearances of Ben Brackney, Cameron Turner, Reuben Bowlby and Steven Green.
There's always the danger of being too
pumped up for an atmosphere like Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium on Friday
night. However, Lincoln played a very strong game, not
doing anything of the spectacular, but also not making many
Junior Nathaniel Smith made the first basket of
the contest and the Railers would not trail in the game. SHG was able to tie the game twice, at
5-5, but after Nelson hit the first of his three 3s on the
night, the Cyclones would get no closer than one, and that was at 8-7
to end the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Railers (24-3, 11-2)
stepped on the gas and ran away. Outscoring SHG 24-5 in the period,
Lincoln scored from inside, at the free-throw line and from
outside. Nelson scored eight of his team-high-tying 15 points in the
quarter, including two 3-pointers. The second of those, just as the clock expired,
was No. 217 in his career. He is now only 64 behind the all-time
leader, Gregg Alexander. Brackney, held scoreless in the first
quarter, scored nine of his 12 points, while Smith hit 6 of 7
from the free-throw line.
The Railers' 32-12 lead at the half made you
feel rather comfortable they would continue their streak of winning
when up at the half, now at 22-0 on the season.
The third quarter was a little more back and
forth, but the closest SHG (12-13, 4-9) could get was 15 at 36-21.
Brant Coyne hit the first two baskets from inside, while sophomore
Austin Kirby hit two of his career-high four 3-pointers. Kirby
finished with a career-best 12 points on the night. And there was a play
late in the quarter that sums up this Railer team.
If you really want to know what this team is
about, then this is it in a nutshell. After a Railer turnover, Smith
hustled back to strip the ball from SHG's Jake Williams. Instead of
letting the ball trickle out of bounds, Smith grabbed it and headed
up the sideline. Cutting across the top of the key, he found
Brackney open in the right corner. Brackney thought about driving
and then pulled up over his defender, draining a 3 and pushing
the Lincoln lead to 50-27. Hustle and defense turning into offense.
That hustle and defense did enough to give the Railers the lead
52-30 at the end of three.
It was now time for a little fun. At one point
in the fourth quarter, all four seniors were on the court
together. Green was able to get a put-back for his only basket of
the night, while the crowd roared when Bowlby grabbed a rebound
under the basket, passed it out high, then stepped to the corner,
got the ball back and sank his second 3-pointer of the season.
Brandon Miller's 3 closed out the Lincoln scoring as they picked
up the win 67-45.
This game was decided in the first half as the
Railer defense held SHG to just 19 percent shooting while connecting
on 50 percent. The Cyclones did shoot a little better in the second
half but still finished just 34 percent for the game. It was
another good night from the free-throw line for the Railers, going
12 of 15, with Smith shooting 11 of 12.
Nelson and Smith led the team with 15 points,
while Brackney and Kirby added 12. Coyne scored five, with Bowlby
and Miller each hitting a 3, and Green getting in the books with
a fourth-quarter basket.
So, it's goodbye to another season at home, a
home the Railers have taken full advantage of. In this, the 52nd
year of Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium, Lincoln has had only four
non-winning home records. This season is certainly no different,
winning 12 of the 14 contests in front of Railer Nation.
The next contest will be Saturday night against
Moline at historic Wharton Field House in Moline. In 2004, USA
Today voted it as one of the best places in the nation to watch a
high school basketball game. I've been there and you'll get no
argument from me. Make sure you visit
Monday for a recap of the Moline game as well as the latest going on
in Railer Nation.
Other scores from the conference show the
Railers remaining in a tie for the top spot in the Central State
Eight. Springfield allowed only four second-half points in crushing
Glenwood 46-16, Lanphier squeaked by Jacksonville 55-51, while
Taylorville continues to look for that first conference win, falling
to Southeast 68-29. Lincoln, Southeast and Springfield will go
into the final game of the conference season next Friday tied at
11-2, followed by Lanphier at 8-5, SHG and Jacksonville next at 4-9, Glenwood 3-10,
with Taylorville at 0-13.
Nelson 6-12 0-0 15, Smith 2-7 11-12 15,
Brackney 5-10 0-0 12, Kirby 4-5 0-0 12, Coyne 2-4 1-2 5, Miller 1-1
0-1 3, Bowlby 1-1 0-0 3, Green 1-1 0-0 2, Turner 0-4 0-0 0, Gesner
0-0 0-0 0, Olson 0-0 0-0 0, Hays 0-0 0-0 0, Krusz 0-0 0-0 0. Team 22-45 12-15 67. 3-point
field goals 11-23 (Kirby 4-5, Nelson 3-6, Brackney 2-5, Miller 1-1, Bowlby 1-1, Smith 0-2, Turner 0-3).
Rebounds 31 (Brackney 8), assists 13 (Smith 4), steals 6 (Smith 3),
Sergent 9, Eagleton 7, Boggs 6, Jachino 5,
Reavy 5, Hubbard 4, Albert 3, Holmes 2, Bland 2, Williams 2. Team
18-53 4-9 45. 3-point field goals 5 (Boggs 2, Jachino, Reavy,
Albert). Rebounds 33, assists 6, steals 5, turnovers 11.
In 52 seasons at Roy S. Anderson, the Railers
are now 523-145, a winning percentage of .783.
Nelson has passed the 1,200-point plateau
(1,205) and is 32 points out of the top 10 all-time.
Brackney is now
nine points away from the 500-point club. He is also only 16 points behind Larry Lessen for 12th
on the all-time scoring list.
Smith has passed the 500-point mark in his
career. He also set career highs in free throws made (11) and
Brackney is tied with Alex Anderson for
in games played (98), while Nelson has drawn even with Jason Jones
and Jerry Klockenga at 14th with 91.
The Railers have hit 11
3s in three of
their last four games.
Of the 108 quarters played by the Railers,
Lincoln has led at the end of 89 so far this season.
Lincoln is now 19-0 when scoring 56 or more
[Special report by JEFF BENJAMIN]