Saturday, February 20, 2010
Sports NewsMayfield's Mutterings: Illini still in the hunt?

Railers close out home season with 67-45 win over SHG

By Jeff Benjamin

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[February 20, 2010]  There must be something about milestones, SHG and Jordan Nelson hitting 3s as time expires in a quarter. Back in January at the end of the third quarter against SHG, the Lincoln junior guard hit a 3 that got him to the 1,000-point mark in his career. 

HardwareFriday 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 mistakes.

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 2-2 and 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), turnovers 8.

SHG (45)

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.

SHG  7-5-18-15
Lincoln 8-24-20-15

Other notes:

  • 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 attempted (12).

  • Brackney is tied with Alex Anderson for seventh 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 points.

[Special report by JEFF BENJAMIN]






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