The win improves Lincoln's mark to 25-3 and sets up the final
regular-season contest Friday night at Springfield. On
the line: no worse than a share of the conference championship.
It could have been the long trip up to Moline or the final
back-to-back games of the season. Whatever the reason, the Railers
did not look sharp early in the contest. When Nelson got Lincoln on
the board almost halfway through the first quarter, Moline answered
with a 7-0 run. The low-scoring first quarter ended with Moline up
7-5 after Nelson connected on a 3-pointer. That 3 moved
Nelson into second place all-time in 3s made with 218, passing
The Railers showed a little more intensity to start the second
quarter. Junior Nathaniel Smith started the scoring with an inside
basket ending up in a three-point play. A 3 from Moline's
Anthony Lindauer moved the Moline (14-10) lead back to two at 10-8.
Senior Ben Brackney's basket ignited Lincoln's only run of the
contest, a 10-0 run, that put the Railers up 18-10.
The only scoring in the half from Brackney was balanced out with
him getting the ball to others for open looks, including two reverse
shots off the glass from Brant Coyne, who finished with eight.
Nelson ended the scoring with a 3, and Lincoln went to halftime
with a 21-13 advantage.
Scoring was again at a premium in the third quarter as both teams
combined for only 15 points, 10 from the Railers. Brackney's 3
started the half, and after a Moline free throw, Smith hit from
outside as well to stretch the lead to 27-14.
After a quick four-point burst from Moline, baskets from Smith
and Coyne put the lead back at 13 heading into the fourth quarter,
So, up 13, struggling a little offensively, but playing real well on
the defensive end. Well, eight more minutes of game time, back on
the road with another easy win and ... wait, someone's at the door.
Uh-oh, it's that lull. And this one almost got the Railers.
Coach Neil Alexander summed up the final eight minutes rather
directly, saying, "We didn't play the fourth quarter with a lot of
intensity and a lot of smarts."
Yep, that pretty much sums it up.
Sloppy passing, turnovers, unforced errors all led to Moline getting
back into the contest.
The poor Railer play helped the Maroons to a 12-2 run, cutting
Lincoln's lead to three at 33-30. Baskets from Coyne and Brackney
pushed the lead back to seven. Four more in a row from Brackney, who
led on the night with 13 points, edged the lead back to eight at
41-33. Moline threw on one final push, hitting two 3s in a row to
cut the game to 41-39.
In the final minute, Nelson stepped to the line and hit two free
throws to get the game back to four at 43-39. After a Moline free
throw, Nelson's free throw with a second and a half left sealed it
for the Railers.
Yes, it was a nonconference game and the Railers hit just enough
free throws down the stretch to win. However, looking at the big
picture, which for this team is how far it will progress once the
state tournament begins, coach Alexander had a word of caution for his team and Railer
Nation concerning the way Lincoln played on Saturday night: "Coming
up, that could cost you a game, and your season would be over pretty
Talking about the free-throw shooting, a Railer team that came in
shooting almost 80 percent from the line made only 7 of 12, as well
as having a Smith free throw wiped out due to a lane violation by a
teammate with about 40 seconds left in the game. Fortunately, Moline
did no better from the line, going 6 of 11.
[to top of second column]
Overall, not a pretty game. The Railers, according to Alexander,
"didn't attack very well and were pretty sluggish." There
was not much in the way of dribble penetration. Whether that was the
product of conditioning, the Moline defense or both, let's hope
this game doesn't return any time soon.
As mentioned, the Railers were led
in scoring by Brackney's 13. The
points allowed him to reach the 500-point club in a season, making
him and Nelson only the third set of teammates to accomplish the
feat in the same season. Nelson scored 12, while Smith joined in
double figures with 11. Coyne's eight was the only other Railer
So, next up, a chance to stay atop the Central State Eight. Friday's
contest at Springfield will wrap up the regular season and possibly
set the tone for each team heading into the state tournament.
For those who have been there, Springfield's gym is not the
biggest, so if you want a seat, get there as early as you can. The
Railers will need their sixth man in a big way against the Senators.
Of course, you can get a recap of the contest the next morning here
Brackney 5 2-3 13, Nelson 3 4-6 12, Smith 4 1-3 11, Coyne 4 0-0 8,
Kirby 0 0-0 0, Turner 0 0-0 0, Bowlby 0 0-0 0. Team 16 7-12 44.
3-point field goals 5 (Nelson 2, Brackney 2, Smith).
T. Lindauer 11, A. Lindauer 10, Wages 7, Krantz 7, Lewis 2, Atwater 2,
Giovanine 1. Team 14 6-11 40. 3-point field goals 6 (A. Lindauer 3,
T. Lindauer 3)
Nelson is now just 62 behind Gregg Alexander's all-time mark for
3s made in a career. He is also 20 points behind Joe Cook for
10th on the all-time scoring list.
Nelson has made 92 3s this season, the third-best single
season in LCHS history. Jason Osborn is second at 109, with current
assistant coach John Harmsen leading at 113.
With one game left in the regular season, Nelson has moved into a
tie with Josh Komnick for 15th on the single-season scoring list
Brackney has moved to 19th with 504 points on the season, just
three points ahead of his dad, Brian, who scored 501 in the 1983-84
Lincoln's defense has allowed opponents to score under 50 in 12 of
their last 14 games (13-1).
The Springfield game will be game
No. 600 in coach Alexander's
career at Lincoln (454-145).
[Special report by JEFF BENJAMIN]