As with most of the schedule the rest of the way, it seemed
fitting that a Friday night should be spent playing another team
from the CS8. The Titans made their way into the nightcap with a
win over Belleville Althoff. Glenwood was a surprising combatant in
the consolation bracket after falling to Granite City on the
tournament's first day.
Friday night's preview of the two conference
battles to come was a showdown of 3-pointers and free throws.
In the first half, the Railers and Titans combined to go 8 of 27
from behind the arc while making just three 2-point baskets,
Lincoln's belonging to Max Cook late in the first half.
Jordan Gesner scored the first six points of the game for the
Railers. Those would be his only points of the night. A pair of free
throws from Cook gave Lincoln the 8-6 advantage at the end of the
After Glenwood (12-2) tied the game at 8, Jake Olson put Lincoln
back on top with a deep 3 near the left wing. During an 8-0 run
by the Titans, Christian Van Hook picked up his third foul at the
4:31 mark and sat for the rest of the half. The Railers trailed
19-13 at halftime.
The third quarter again was dominated by 3-point shooting, as
neither team made a two-point basket. Somehow, Glenwood did not even
attempt a shot from inside 3-point range. Lincoln used their
shooting to slowly creep back into the contest as Will Podbelsek hit
from long range to start the period.
After Glenwood answered with a 3, Gavin Block's two free throws
made the score 22-18. Limited to just free throws the rest of the
half, it was the clutch outside shooting of senior Austin Kirby that
brought the Railers back. Kirby hit two big 3s, his last before
the quarter ended, sending the Railers to the final period down only one
The fourth quarter was, well, odd to say the least. After a free
throw put Glenwood up a pair, Van Hook's two free throws tied the
game at 26. Podbelsek gave the Railers their last lead of the night
by hitting two free throws, giving Lincoln the 28-26 advantage.
Glenwood proceeded to go on an 11-3 run to push their margin to
six at 37-31, with Lincoln's only points in the span coming from a
Van Hook 3 to tie the game at 31. Down 39-33, the Railers made
their final push of the game, getting two free throws from Cook and
another 3 from Kirby to slice the deficit to one at 39-38.
Then, it got interesting. After Glenwood hit four free throws in a
row, Lincoln cut the lead back to three when Cook made a layup with
38.2 seconds to go. After a Railer timeout, Block tied up a Glenwood
player near half court. When the whistle blew, it appeared the
Railers would be getting the ball back with 31.7 to go on the
Instead, a foul was called on Block, his fifth of the game. Quite
a turn, going from down three and getting the ball back to sending
Glenwood back to the line, one of your top players in the tournament
heading the bench after fouling out and, to add insult to injury,
after the first free throw was shot, a technical foul was assessed
to coach Alexander. That would give the Titans two more free throws
and the ball. After the smoke had cleared, Glenwood was up 46-40
with the ball.
Lincoln kept fouling Glenwood to get back into the game, but the
Titans would not cooperate, going 18 of 23 from the line in the
fourth quarter. A couple of layups from Podbelsek and Cook got them
close, but each time Glenwood stepped up and knocked down free
As for the play with 31 seconds left, coach Alexander was still
frustrated by that one.
"That was a held ball. In my mind, he had
all ball," Alexander said. "As for the technical, I'll take the
blame for that one."
In his postgame comments, Alexander was not as
disappointed in the official's call as much as he was his team's
"They (Glenwood) hit five 3s in the first half, and
I bet most of them were on second- and third-chance opportunities,"
Well, for the game, the Titans outscored the Railers 8-0 on second-chance points. The margin of defeat was seven.
The Railers were led by Cook with 10 points and five assists. Kirby
finished with nine, with Podbelsek and Van Hook each adding seven.
The duo had five and seven rebounds respectively. Gesner scored an
early six but was on the bench for much of the second half. Olson
connected for a 3, while Block scored two.
In Lincoln's first matchup of the day, the Railers played their best
game of the season in knocking off Plainfield South 55-43. This was
a Cougar team that lost to the Railers last season at Collinsville
by one point. And, if this game was the best the team had played all
year, then Gesner led the way with his best effort. The senior
notched a team-high 18 points, was 7 of 11 from the field, hitting
all six shots inside 3-point range and tied for the team lead in
rebounds with five.
The Railers started strong, getting two baskets from Gesner in the
first quarter along with 3s from Block and Podbelsek. After
being tied at 10 at the end of one, the Cougars took an early lead
at 12-11, but it would be their last of the day. Lincoln went on an
11-3 run, including a lob layup and 3 from Van Hook, an old-fashioned three-point play from Cook thanks to a drive down the left
side of the lane, and a long 3 from Gesner.
[to top of second column]
That final basket prompted the Cougars to take timeout at the
3:23 mark of the quarter, down 22-15. The break in action seemed to
settle down Plainfield South as they closed the gap to two as time
ticked down in the half. Lincoln got a big boost of momentum going
into half as Block missed a 3 from the top of the key, but the
short shot was corralled by Gesner, who laid it as the quarter ended,
putting Lincoln up 24-20.
The start of the third quarter seemed to show signs of life for
the Cougars, who quickly tied the game at 24. When Podbelsek hit
his second 3 of the game, the Railers took the lead back at
29-26. Up 31-28, Lincoln again used a 9-3 run to stretch the
lead to nine at 40-31 heading to the fourth quarter.
Something the Railers struggled with in the contest was free
throws, finishing 11 of 22. After a Plainfield score, the
Railers missed four in a row, two each from Cook and Podbelsek.
The latter free throws were of secondary concern at the time, as
he was a substitute shooter for Block.
The freshman had to leave the game after being fouled hard by
Plainfield's William Nixon. After Nixon and Block were
untangled, it was Block who was writhing around under the
basket in pain, grabbing uncomfortably at his right foot. After
a few moments of attention from the trainer, Block hobbled to
the bench. During his absence, the Cougars cut the margin to
five at 40-35.
As Railer Nation has gotten used to, it was the defense that
ultimately won this game. Up only the five points, a basket by
Gesner was immediately followed by a Podbelsek steal and layup
at the 4:10 mark left in the game. Block then made one of two
free throws after returning, and Lincoln had moved the lead to
double figures at 45-35. After a pair of Plainfield free throws
cut the lead to seven at 46-39, it was the defense again
doubling down. Gesner scored four points in a row on a basket,
steal and basket, putting Lincoln up 50-39.
Even with the free-throw difficulties, the Railers managed to
hit five of their last six to pull out the win 55-43.
The Railers were led by Gesner's 18 points, while Podbelsek was
double figures with 13. Block finished with nine, Van Hook
scored eight, Cook added five, and Matt Hays scored a basket on a layup.
The Railers were forced to play both games on Friday without
sophomore Edward Bowlby. The sophomore who got his first start
on Thursday was, although in uniform and on the bench,
unavailable due to illness.
Lincoln will now take a short break
before starting the 2012 portion of the schedule with a
conference doubleheader next weekend. On Friday night, the Railers will be in Springfield to take on the Senators, while the
Spartans of Southeast will make a call to Roy S. Anderson on
Here's hoping you and yours have a healthy and happy new year in
Gesner 7-11 3-4 18, Podbelsek 5-8 0-2 13, Block 2-5 4-5 9, Van
Hook 3-11 1-4 8, Cook 1-3 3-7 5, Hays 1-2 0-0 2, Olson 0-0 0-0
0, Kirby 0-2 0-0 0. Team 19-42 11-22 55. 3-point field goals
6-22 (Podbelsek 3-5, Block 1-4, Van Hook 1-5, Gesner 1-5, Cook
0-1, Kirby 0-2). Rebounds 27 (Van Hook, Gesner 5), assists 9
(Block 3), steals 6 (Van Hook 3), turnovers 6.
PLAINFIELD SOUTH (43)
Presniakovas 21, Nixon 6, Hayes 6, Wright 6, Hill 2, Garrett 2.
Team 13-37 14-18 43. 3-point field goals 3-16 (Presniakovas 2,
Wright). Rebounds 35, assists 4, steals 4, turnovers 14.
Scoring by quarters:
LCHS 10-14-16-15 55
PSHS 10-10-11-12 43
Cook 3-4 4-6 10, Kirby 3-6 0-0 9, Podbelsek 2-6 2-5 7, Van Hook
1-6 4-4 7, Gesner 2-4 0-0 6, Olson 1-4 0-0 3, Block 0-5 2-2 2,
Hays 0-1 0-1 0. Team 12-36 12-18 44. 3-point field goals 8-24
(Kirby 3-6, Gesner 2-3, Van Hook 1-3, Podbelsek 1-4, Olson 1-4,
Block 0-4). Rebounds 26 (Van Hook 7), assists 7 (Cook 5), steals
3 (3 tied with 1), turnovers 4.
Allen 17, Gates 13, McAdams 11, Helm 4, Epperum 3, Sharp 2,
Thurston 1. Team 11-36 21-29 51. 3-point field goals 8-29
(McAdams 3, Gates 3, Allen 2). Rebounds 37, assists 10, steals
2, turnovers 9.
Scoring by quarters:
LCHS 8-5-11-20 44
GHS 6-13-6-26 51
[By JEFF BENJAMIN]