Saturday, January 30, 2010
Sports NewsMayfield's Mutterings: Illini still in the hunt?

Railers take conference lead with 61-45 win over Springfield

Send a link to a friend

[January 30, 2010]  Sometimes the games that get all the hype never live up to being what you were hoping for. On Friday night, the battle between Class 3A's No. 4 and 6 teams, as well as for current supremacy of the Central State Eight, did not disappoint.

HardwareIn a back-and-forth affair, Lincoln, once up 11-0, then trailing 27-17, stormed back in the second half to pull away with a 61-45 victory. The win marks the 20th victory of the season, the 28th time in school history to reach that mark and the 18th campaign in coach Neil Alexander's career that he has led a team to that milestone.

The fourth-ranked Railers (20-2, 9-1) placed four in double figures to take the lead in the conference by a game over No. 6 Springfield (16-5, 8-2), which has now lost two of their last three.


The home squad, playing in front of a packed Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium, fed off the energy to jump to an early 11-0 lead.

It took a couple of minutes to get the first score of the game, but Ben Brackney's drive to the basket put the Railers on the board.

Junior Brant Coyne followed with a 3 from the corner, while Jordan Nelson hit from long range and then sank three from the line after being fouled from behind the arc.

As well as Lincoln played early in the first part of the quarter, thanks in large part to turnovers from the Senators, the visitors from the capital city were able to slowly claw their way back into the game, going on an 11-2 run of their own to trail by only two at the end of the first quarter.

Brackney got the first basket of the second quarter to push the Lincoln lead back to 15-11, and then things fell apart.

Bad shot selection, uncharacteristic sloppy passing and ballhandling -- all that plus improved inside play from the Senators led them on a 16-2 run to take a double-digit lead of their own at 27-17.

The game's turning point took place just before halftime. Down 29-20, Reuben Bowlby hit two free throws to cut the deficit to seven. As the closing seconds ticked down, a steal by Cameron Turner led to Brackney hitting a 3 from just to the right of the top of the key to send the teams into the locker room with Springfield on top 29-25.


"I thought we just quit playing," Alexander said when asked about the lull in the first half. "I don't know if we got tired or ran out of gas or what, but you can't give that opening to a good team like that."

The momentum carried into the second half as Coyne hit two 3s, one from the top of the key and the other from the corner, the second of which tied the game at 31.

After all the ups and downs, Springfield would never get the lead back. The rest of the quarter belonged to juniors Nathaniel Smith and Nelson. The duo combined for Lincoln's last 11 points of the quarter, including Nelson connecting from long range while Smith was scoring on acrobatic reverse layups after good, hard cuts to the basket.

Again, the Senators would not go away after trailing by as much as seven in the quarter. A late basket cut the Lincoln lead to 42-39 at the end of three.

Brackney's free throw and an early 3 from Springfield made it a one-point game early in the fourth quarter, and the stage seemed set for one of those fantastic finishes.

Unfortunately for the Senators, the Railers ran their spread offense to perfection, reeling off an 18-2 run to finish the game, including the final 10 points of the contest.

It was more Smith driving to the basket and free throws. The Railers started the second half missing three of their four attempts, but, when it counted, connected on 10 in a row to finish the game 17 of 20 from the line.

After the game, Alexander was very pleased with his team's effort. "Because of their defense, we ended up with a lot of mismatches, especially for Smitty, and he took advantage of them. We beat a good basketball team tonight. I thought everyone played really well and tough," he said. "Also, the crowd was fantastic."

Except for the stretch midway through the first quarter until the end of the second, the Railers played really well. But, in every game, there is that stretch -- that period of time when shots aren't falling, bad shots are being taken, and things go from bad to worse to ... well, will the bad ever end?

Friday night, there was enough backbone to stand up, push back and get the conference lead back. As the season draws closer to tournament time, this team cannot afford these stretches.

[to top of second column]

When March gets here, one bad stretch could see the uniforms and basketballs put up for the season. However, should this team choose to show that backbone and toughness they displayed on Friday night for the rest of the season, they will be the ones forcing other teams to close the book on another season while the Railers move on.

A good night of balanced scoring saw Brackney lead with 17 points, followed closely by Smith's 16 and Nelson's 15. Coyne rounded out the double-figure scorers with 11, while Bowlby added two free throws. The Railers shot 48 percent for the game, while holding Springfield to 39 percent. The game also marked the first time the Railers had trailed at the half and still won this season.

Things do not get any easier for the Railers. After an off day on Saturday, they are back on the road Friday night at Southeast. The Spartans were winners on Friday night and are now tied for second in the conference with Springfield.

The other scores from the CS8 from Friday night saw Southeast knock off Jacksonville 64-52, Lanphier easily over Taylorville 88-35, and Glenwood fell at home to SHG 39-31. Through Friday night, the conference standings look this way: Lincoln 9-1, Springfield 8-2, Southeast 8-2, Lanphier 6-4, Jacksonville 4-6, Glenwood 3-7, SHG 2-8 and Taylorville 0-10.

As always, if it's Railer information you want, the place to turn is



Brackney 6-12 4-5 17, Smith 6-10 4-6 16, Nelson 4-12 5-5 15, Coyne 3-4 2-2 11, Bowlby 0-0 2-2 2, Kirby 0-1 0-0 0, Turner 0-1 0-0. Team 19-40 17-20 61. 3-point field goals 6-17 (Coyne 3-4, Nelson 2-8, Brackney 1-3, Smith 0-1, Turner 0-1). Rebounds 22 (Smith, Brackney 6), assists 8 (Smith 3), steals 9 (Smith 4), turnovers 13.

Springfield (45)

Wiley 5-10 3-3 13, Bridges 6-9 0-2 12, Gilchrese 5-14 0-1 11, Hale 2-9 2-2 7, Burnett 1-3 0-0 2, Klunick 0-4 0-0 0, Stolleis 0-0 0-0 0. Team 19-49 5-8 45. 3-point field goals 2-12 (Hale 1-3, Gilchrese 1-6, Burnett 0-1, Klunick 0-2). Rebounds 33 (Wiley 10), assists 9 (Gilchrese, Hale 3), steals 6 (Bridges 3), turnovers 16.

Springfield 11-18-10-6
Lincoln 13-12-17-19

Other notes:

  • With the second of two free throws late in the game, Jordan Nelson hit the 1,100-point mark for his career. He is now only four points behind Paul Kendrick for 12th all-time.

  • Nelson's two 3s allowed him to tie Jason Osborn for third all-time with 200 made in his career.

  • By playing, Brackney is now tied for 11th in games played, drawing even with Ryne Komnick at 93 games.

[Special report by JEFF BENJAMIN]

< Sports index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor