Saturday, December 10, 2011
Sports News

Railer skid hits 4 against Rochester

By Jeff Benjamin

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[December 10, 2011]  ROCHESTER -- When last we saw the Railers, a 3-point shot was going down at the buzzer to send Lincoln to its third straight defeat. On Friday, it was Lincoln hitting from long range at the buzzer. Unfortunately, Christian Van Hook's jumper from the corner was Lincoln's only 3-point make of the second half after 13 consecutive misses and left the Railers one point short, falling in the conference opener 42-41 to the Rockets at the Rochester Athletic Complex. 

The loss leaves Lincoln (2-5, 0-1) winless in its last four games, the last three of which they have lost by a total of four points. It was certainly a game that the Railers had a chance to win, but with missed opportunities combining with some very physical play, the Railers left Rochester hoping to end their losing streak next Friday at Jacksonville. 

To say the game got very physical and chippy at the end would probably be doing a disservice to both of those words. The game featured two second-half technicals, a Rochester fan being escorted from the game late in the contest, and a Lincoln coaching staff questioning some of the calls, and the comments, from the officiating crew. 

The game was tight throughout the first quarter as the Railers made their first-ever trip to the RAC. As they've done many times this season, it was Van Hook getting the red-clad Railers on the board first with a top-of-the-key jumper for 3. 

Misc

It seemed obvious from the start that Rochester coach John Angelo felt the best way to handle the Railers was to keep the ball away from sophomore Max Cook. To do that, Angelo assigned all-everything wide receiver Zach Grant to guard Cook. Lincoln used Grant's overaggressiveness against him as Cook's back-door cut and layup put the Railers up 5-3.   

Rochester got an early show from Seth McMinn.  The Rockets' leading scorer on the night, McMinn hit his first two 3s of the night, including the second to put Rochester up 6-5. The game swung back and forth, with Cook's rebound basket giving the Railers their final points of the first quarter to tie the matchup at 12. Matt Yeck's bucket provided the two-point advantage the Rockets would carry into the second at 14-12 

A pivotal point of the contest occurred just 31 seconds into the second quarter as Van Hook picked up his second foul, going to the bench and remaining there for the rest of the half. During the early stages of his trip to the bench, Rochester was in the midst of a 7-0 run to take a 19-12 lead. 

Down seven, the Railers stormed back thanks to an acrobatic baseline drive by Cook that led to an old-fashioned three-point play, and Jake Olson and Will Podbelsek draining 3s from the corner, and just like that, Lincoln had surged ahead 21-19. 

Rochester wasted no time in tying the contest at 21, but Podbelsek hit his second in a row from the same corner to push the Railer lead to three. Up 24-23, Lincoln's final points of the half came from senior Jordan Gesner, whose drive and pull-up from about 15 feet sent Lincoln into the locker room with a 26-23 lead. So, the Railers had weathered the storm with their leading scorer on the bench, outscoring the Rockets 14-9 with Van Hook out. 

Just as McMinn had started off, he came out the same in the third, tying the contest with his third 3 on the night. After a Gesner runner put Lincoln back on top, it was another 7-0 run by the Rockets to put the hosts up 33-28. The Railers caught a break while looking for any kind of offense in the third quarter as Rochester was assessed a technical foul for having too many players on the court. Cook hit one of the two free throws, and on the ensuing possession, Van Hook's thunderous dunk on the alley-oop lob brought the Railers to within a pair at 33-31 as the game headed to the fourth. 

With the alternating possession giving the ball to Rochester to start the fourth, Lincoln coach Neil Alexander crossed up the Rockets (1-2, 1-1), playing man-to-man style pressure on the inbounds to start the quarter, forcing a turnover that gave the Railers a chance to tie. However, as the theme of the night seemed to continue, Lincoln just could not take advantage of the opportunity. Yeck connected from long range and, from a chance to tie, the Railers found themselves down five at 36-31.   

After a Gesner back-door layup got the game to 36-33, the Rockets made three of their next four free throws to go up by six. The physical play by Rochester prevented the Railers from any type of sustained offensive pressure on the basket. Much of the Lincoln offense consisted of passing the ball around the perimeter, searching for any crack in the Rocket defense. Of course, the apparent pushing and grabbing by the defense seemed to make it difficult for the visitors to find any open lanes to the basket. A steal by Olson led to an easy lay-in for Gesner. Another McMinn basket pushed the lead back to six at 41-35.   

Shortly after Podbelsek picked up his fifth foul, the complaining and questioning from the Railer bench reached its boiling point as a technical foul was whistled and, at that point, any chance of a Lincoln comeback seemed to go out the door. McMinn hit one of the two shots to finish with a game-high 16 points and put the Rockets up 42-35.

The Railers would not go out without a fight. In the final 30 seconds, Cook's two free throws, a free throw from Gesner and Van Hook's 3 at the buzzer got them close, but time ran out and Rochester celebrated a first-ever win over the Railers. 

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Lincoln was led by Van Hook, who scored 11 points and grabbed five rebounds. Cook joined him in double figures with 10 points. Gesner finished with a strong game, adding nine points and seven rebounds, while Podbelsek scored all eight of his points in the first half. Olson scored only three but was credited with five steals and four assists.  Tommy Harris, Matt Hays and Edward Bowlby played but did not score, with Hays contributing four rebounds. 

If you get the opportunity, check out the replay of this contest and you'll see why the coaching staff was upset with some of the officiating. It's never the officials who win or lose a game, although there are circumstances where it can be made more difficult, depending on which way the sound of the Acme Thunder Whistle goes. 

Another disappointing loss for the Railers. It was another game where if a couple of things had gone the other way, this team could be 5-2, not the other way around. However, don't give up on this team yet. They may not be coming out on top on the scoreboard, but they won't quit.

The Railers do not have time to hang their heads, as a CS8 doubleheader awaits them next weekend with a road trip to Jacksonville on Friday night and their final home game of 2011 on Saturday night as they host Taylorville.

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Lincoln (41)

Van Hook 4-14 1-2 11, Cook 3-6 4-5 10, Gesner 4-10 1-2 9, Podbelsek 3-6 0-0 8, Olson 1-4 0-0 3, Harris 0-1 0-0 0, Hays 0-1 0-0 0, Bowlby 0-0 0-0 0. Team 15-42 6-9 41. 3-point shooting 5-22 (Podbelsek 2-4, Van Hook 2-8, Olson 1-4, Cook 0-1, Harris 0-1, Gesner 0-4). Rebounds 28 (Gesner 7), assists 9 (Olson 4), steals 7 (Olson 5), turnovers 9. 

ROCHESTER (42)

McMinn 16, Yeck 11, Houston 5, Grant 5, Ferguson 3, Saccaro 2. Team 15-33 5-12 42. 3-point shooting 7-16 (McMinn 3, Yeck 2, Houston, Grant). Rebounds 27, assists 10, steals 2, turnovers 12.

Scoring by quarters:

LCHS          12-14-5-10  41
Rochester     12-9-10-9    42 

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Alumni 

An update on some LCHS alumni from the collegiate courts: 

  • Ben Brackney (Bucknell 6-4): GP 8, FG% 56, 3FG% 67, RPG 1.6, PPG 3.3. High game of 12.

  • Nathaniel Smith (Loras 2-6): GP 8, FG% 21, 3FG% 22, RPG 2.5, PPG 2.0. High game of 10.

  • Louie Schonauer (Nova SE 3-3): GP 6, FG% 31, 3FG% 27, RPG 2.3, PPG 4.7. High game of 13.

  • Jordan Nelson (Evansville 3-4): GP 5, FG% 50, 3FG% 40, RPG 1.0, PPG 3.6. High game of 10.

[By JEFF BENJAMIN]

Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles

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