After losing their previous four games
by a total of six points, Lincoln was hoping the home cooking would
be enough to get them back in the win column. The Railers (3-6, 1-2)
wasted no time in making a statement by jumping out to an early 7-0
Unlike previous games, Lincoln made
a concerted effort to get to the basket, with Jordan Gesner's driving
lay-up and Christian Van Hook's floater from the low block putting
the Railers on the board. The inside play allowed the Railers to
force Taylorville to focus more defensively in the lane, which in
turn, gave Lincoln's 3-point shooters better looks. No one took
advantage of that more than Will Podbelsek. The junior hit his
first two from behind the arc, helping the Railers to a 10-3 lead.
A 5-0 run put the Tornadoes (0-9,
0-4) back to within two at 10-8, while a Van Hook putback was
Lincoln's last score of the first quarter. A final basket from
Taylorville cut the Lincoln lead to just two at the end of the first
quarter. No one knew that would be the last Taylorville score for a
long, long time.
Gesner scored seven points in a 9-0
run to start the second quarter, and when freshman Gavin Block scored his
first varsity points on a putback at the buzzer, the Railers had
pitched their first defensive shutout of the season, holding the
Tornadoes to only two shots and outscoring Taylorville 11-0 in the
second quarter to take a 23-10 lead to the locker room.
What was also unusual was the
rotation of substitutions used by Lincoln coach Neil Alexander. Normally,
the Railers will use seven or eight players, but 12 players saw action in the
first half, keeping a promise Alexander had made before the game.
"We told them a lot of kids would see some action," Alexander
said. "We wanted to see some kids in some different spots to see
what would work."
After trading baskets to start the
third quarter, Taylorville scored five in a row to cut the Lincoln
lead to 28-20, the last time on the night Taylorville would trail by
The rest of the quarter belonged to Podbelsek, a
player coach Alexander called "the most consistent player we've had
to this point." The junior, who scored 12 on Friday night at
Jacksonville, scored nine of his 15 points in a two-minute stretch
to end the quarter. Podbelsek drained two 3s, the
second after a steal by Jake Olson, and then continued the
aggressive play to the basket with a drive on the left side for a
layup and foul, completing another three-point play.
held scoreless in the second, Taylorville did come back with 13 in
the third, but was still outscored, leaving the Railers up 37-23
heading to the fourth.
The fourth quarter was a study in
Lincoln lengthening the lead little by little. Taylorville would
hit for two, the Railers would hit a 3, something they did 11
times on the night. Lincoln put the game out of reach with a 9-3
run at 39-27 to put the Railers up 48-30. The run included a couple
more 3s from the game's high scorer, Gesner, who finished with
After another basket from Gesner,
it was two more 3s, one each from Van Hook and Block, that
cemented the victory. The margin allowed all the players on the
roster to see game action and, as the final horn sounded on the 17-point win, a big sigh could be heard from Railer Nation, knowing
that of all the things that will be taken to Collinsville for the
Holiday Classic next week, anything resembling a losing streak would
not be one of them.
One area of concern in the second
half was allowing 30 points. For a team that came in giving up
points in the low 40's, 30 in a half is not what the coaching staff
is looking for. Coach Alexander commented on this with, "We have to
be tough after scores. When we score, we have to be strong and
not let them come back down and get easy scores."
[to top of second column]
Saturday's game also continued a
couple of tendencies from early in the season. The Railers have had
three players score in double figures in a game three times this
season, all wins. Also, in all games they have led at the end of
the first quarter, those are the games that have ended up in the win
Gesner led with 17 points, while
Podbelsek continued his strong play with 15 points. Van Hook added
11 points and a team-high five rebounds. Olson finished with six
points, while Block tallied five, Max Cook added a basket and Austin Krusz scored Lincoln's final point from the free-throw line.
The sophomore squad got back in the
win column with a 45-30 win.
The Railers will now take a break
from game action until next Wednesday, when they will face Belleville
East in the 1 p.m. game at Collinsville. The Lancers feature one
of the top juniors in the state in Malcolm Hill. The game time on
Thursday, either 10:30 a.m. or 2:30 p.m., will be determined based on
I hope you and yours have a very
Gesner 7-9 0-0 17, Podbelsek 5-8
1-1 15, Van Hook 5-10 0-0 11, Olson 2-5 0-0 6, Block 2-3 0-0 5, Cook
1-2 0-0 2, Krusz 0-0 1-2 1, Kirby 0-3 0-1 0, Eimer 0-0 0-0 0, Olden
0-0 0-0 0, Harris 0-2 0-0 0, Hays 0-1 0-0 0, Heidbreder 0-2 0-0 0, Horchem 0-0
0-0 0, Hemenway 0-0 0-0 0, Bowlby 0-0 0-0 0. Team 22-45 2-4 57. 3-point field goals 11-24 (Podbelsek 4-6, Gesner 3-4, Olson 2-5, Van
Hook 1-2, Block 1-2, Harris 0-2, Kirby 0-3). Rebounds 21 (Van Hook
5), assists 12 (Cook, Olson 3), steals 8 (Podbelsek, Olson 2),
Wilhour 11, Jackson 10, A.Peters 8,
Dees 3, McChristy 2, Willingham 2, Fulk 2, Norville 2. Team 16-31
3-5 40. 3-point field goals 5-13 (Wilhour 3, Dees, Jackson). Rebounds 21,
assists 8, steals 2, turnovers 15.
Scoring by quarters:
LCHS 12-11-14-20 57
THS 10- 0-13-17 40
[By JEFF BENJAMIN]
Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles