It has been a few years since
Lincoln started a season 0-1, but coach Neil Alexander was very
pleased with the effort his squad put forth, especially during the
first 2 1/2 quarters.
"I think we played very well, but
Cahokia is a good team. They are long. I think in the second half we
just got tired," Alexander said.
graduation taking away three starters from last year and an injury
hitting another, the inexperience certainly was not evident at Roy
S. Anderson Gymnasium on Monday night.
It seems fitting that the one
returning starter from last season, senior Jordan Gesner, scored
Lincoln's first points of the season, hitting for 3 near the top
of the key at the 6:25 mark of the first quarter. The rest of the
quarter belonged to Christian Van Hook. The 6-4 senior scored the
final nine points of the quarter for Lincoln, including a couple of
lobs and a 3 from the corner at the buzzer to cut the deficit to
15-12 at the end of the period.
The 3 from Van Hook
started an 11-0 run for the Railers, propelling them from down three
to up five at 20-15, forcing Cahokia to take a timeout to settle
their squad. Gesner's 3 started the second-quarter scoring,
followed by five more from Van Hook.
Although Van Hook and Gesner
were handling the early scoring, it was Max Cook who may have had
the most impressive start to the season. Cook, only a sophomore, was
given the responsibility of running the point for the Railer
offense. Never looking too rattled or out of place, Cook made sure
the Lincoln offense ran crisp and tight. It was the patience and
precision of the Lincoln movement that allowed them to hang on in
the first half. Cook's only points of the
first half came from the free-throw line.
Up 21-27, the Comanches
ran off six in a row to take a 23-21 edge, but Gesner tied it at 23. Like
the end of the first quarter, the Railers saved their best drama for
the end. After missing a couple of shots in the last 10 seconds of
the quarter, the ball ended up in the hands of sophomore Edward Bowlby. Bowlby grabbed the rebound and flipped it toward the
basket, watching it drop through just as the buzzer sounded. Two
quarters, two buzzer-beaters, this last one giving the Railers a
25-23 halftime lead.
It didn't take long for
Cahokia to tie the game at
25. In what is certainly a glimpse of things to come, Lincoln (0-1)
took the lead right back on a driving left-hand layup by Cook, who
completed the three-point play by making the free throw. Cook's
first step left the
Cahokia defender just a bystander while his Comanche teammates
allowed the sophomore to make his way to the basket. Cahokia
answered with their own three-point play. Another jumper from Cook
put the Railers up 30-28, their last lead of the night.
A quick 5-0 spurt put Cahokia
up 33-30. The Railers cut it back to one after Cahokia
rebounded a missed shot, but junior Will Podbelsek was there to grab
it away under the basket and lay it in. Cahokia
scored at the end of the quarter to hold a 35-32 lead after three.
A 3 by the Comanches (1-0)
extended the lead to 38-32, punctuating a 10-2 run by Cahokia. The
Railers kept it close, thanks to baskets from Cook and Van Hook. The
size and strength of
Cahokia appeared to take
its toll on the Railers, who played only six in the contest. The
jumpers that were going down in the first half were falling short,
possibly from tired legs. Defensive plays and loose balls that were
going the Railers' way were not being made and were ending up in
Cahokia's hands. The
Railers could only get within two late in the game, the last time at
42-40. Cahokia closed out
the game well, tallying the final six points of the contest to pull
away for the eight-point win, 48-40.
[to top of second column]
Van Hook led the Railers with
a career-high 18 points, while Cook also reached double figures for
the first time in his career with 10. Gesner added eight, with
Podbelsek and Bowlby each scoring a basket.
The Railers will be back in
action Wednesday night at 8,
taking on Danville. The Vikings fell to Champaign Centennial 67-63
Monday night. The other final from the first night of the Eaton
Electrical Round Robin Tournament saw Seton Academy
handling Morton 73-53.
So, first game is in the
books. First impressions? The Railers will win some games this
year, that is a certainty. Will they win games like they have in the
past? Not yet. This team will have to give every effort possible,
but, even in just the first game, there are things to like. Sizewise, the Railers will usually never be the biggest on the floor. As
they say, you can't measure heart, and you can tell this team has
that. One item that should not go unnoticed was the defense took
three charges in the game, two from Bowlby and the other from Cook.
In games where they may not come out on top, the opposing team
should know that the kids wearing the red and the green do not take
that responsibility lightly. Every game this team plays will give
them the opportunity to get better. Who knows? If a couple of loose
balls or breaks go their way on Monday, I might be telling you about
a Railer win.
It is a young team, in both
class rank and experience, but seeing this team take its first step, I can't wait to watch them grow up right before our eyes.
Van Hook 8-17 0-0 18, Cook 4-7
2-3 10, Gesner 3-6 0-0 8, Podbelsek 1-4 0-0 2, Bowlby 1-2 0-0 2,
Olson 0-6 0-0 0. Team 17-42 2-3 40. 3-point field goals 4-20 (Gesner
2-5, Van Hook 2-7, Bowlby 0-1, Podbelsek 0-3, Olson 0-4.
Rebounds 23. Turnovers 14.
Minor 19, Austin 11, Jackson
7, Jennings 5, Rivers 2, Smoot 2, Tucker 2. Team 19-47 6-7 48. 3-point field goals 4-14. Rebounds 30. Turnovers 12.
Scoring by quarters:
Catching up with the
Railers of the past
As I mentioned in Monday's
preview article, if you know of any Railer alumni who have
continued their basketball careers at the collegiate level, please
contact me through LDN and I will be glad to try to keep up with
them. One reader did that, so along with Jordan Nelson, Nathaniel
Smith and Ben Brackney, you can also keep up with former Railer
Louie Schonauer, currently enjoying the warm weather at Nova Southeastern
University. Listed below are his stats as well as the next game for
Schonauer (Nova SE
2-2) -- 4
games, 6.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg; next game Nov. 29 at West Georgias
-- Nov. 23 at UIC
Smith (Loras) --
Nov. 26 at
University of Chicago
Brackney (Bucknell) -- Nov. 22 at
[By JEFF BENJAMIN]
Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles