The Railers rallied from a second-half deficit on the strength of
clutch free-throw shooting, defense and rebounding to tally their
first win of the season, a 48-37 victory over Danville. Lincoln
improves to 1-1 on the season, while Danville will be looking for
their first mark in the win column on Friday.
During the second-half comeback, there were many who played their
parts. Down 30-24 in the third quarter to Danville, Lincoln tied the
contest on the strength of two 3-pointers from Jake Olson, the
second coming with about 3 1/2 minutes to go in
the period. The senior finished with a career-high 11 points.
The score remained tied until late in the period. After Max Cook
missed an opportunity to give the Railers the lead from the free-throw line, Tommy Harris' steal got the ball back for Lincoln, and
Matt Hays put the Railers up for good at 32-30 with a 15-footer in
the final 30 seconds.
The contribution of all who played on Wednesday night was not lost
on Lincoln coach Neil Alexander. "I thought we got some real good
minutes off our bench tonight," Alexander commented. "We got some
guys some rest and that helped at the end."
Christian Van Hook continued the scoring for Lincoln to end a 10-0
run, giving the Railers a 34-30 advantage. The senior leadership
continued for Lincoln as Jordan Gesner connected for his lone 3
of the night to stretch the lead to 37-32. Gesner scored a game-high
15 points and grabbed four rebounds.
After Danville had cut the lead to three again, Cook found a wide-open Olson cutting down the lane on an inbounds play, and his layup
pushed the margin back to four. The Vikings scored the next three
points to climb back to within one, and the partisan crowd at Roy S.
Anderson would get an idea of how this team would handle the
The key basket of the night came with less than two minutes to go
when Cook delivered one of his nine assists on a backdoor
cut to Gesner, who converted the layup, giving Lincoln the 41-38 lead. Gesner
hit four straight free throws, and Cook hit two more as the Railers
ended the contest on an 8-0 run. Lincoln, as good Railer teams have
done in the past, came through when necessary, making all six free
throws in the fourth quarter to pull out the 47-38 win.
The evening couldn't have started better for the Railers. After
winning the tip, Cook's alley-oop pass to Van Hook for a dunk in the
game's first few seconds got the Railer Nation right out of their
seats just moments after settling into them. An Olson 3 put the
Railers up 11-5 in the first, but Danville stormed off on a 14-2 run
to take a 19-13 lead midway through the second quarter.
Danville's Dennis Hightower scored at will at times on the Railer
defense. Hightower finished with 12 points in the contest, all in
the first half. Coach Alexander said that Hightower's performance
was addressed at halftime as Alexander did not want "his standing
open and flipping one up, one after another to continue."
The Railers used a quick 6-0 run to knot the game back at 19.
However, the Vikings answered with a five-point burst of their own.
A Van Hook free throw ended the first-half scoring with the Railers
[to top of second column]
The second half started much like the first ended. Danville found
openings in the Lincoln defense for a pair of 3-pointers to
bring the score to 30-24. The field goals were the only ones made by
Danville in the quarter, as they were held to just those six points
in the period.
The hustle and effort from Monday night was there again on Wednesday
evening. A much more balanced attack pulled the Railers through for
win No. 1 on the season. Gesner led the way with 15 points,
while Van Hook (13) and Olson (11) joined him in double figures. Van
Hook had a team-high eight rebounds. Cook may have only scored four
points, but his ball handling and distribution was as much a key to
victory as anything. The sophomore grabbed six boards as well as
dishing out the nine assists. Will Podbelsek scored two and had
three rebounds, while Matt Hays made one field goal, and Harris,
along with his key steal, had three rebounds as well.
If it seems like there has been a lot of discussion about
rebounding, the Railers, although undersized to Danville, won
the rebound battle 28-22. That number may tell more about the
tenacity and effort of this team than anything.
The Railers, as well as all the teams, will take a well-deserved
break to celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday and then be right
back at it Friday. Lincoln will play the 8 p.m. game against
Champaign Centennial. The rest of the Friday slate has Danville
facing Seton Academy and Morton taking on Cahokia. The other
finals from Wednesday night were Morton 60, Champaign Centennial
47 and Seton Academy 67, Cahokia 59. All teams in the tournament
are 1-1 except for Seton Academy (2-0) and Danville (0-2).
I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving. Remember, there's
always room for pumpkin pie. At least that's what I tell myself.
Gesner 5-6 4-4 15, Van Hook 6-13 1-2 13, Olson 4-8 0-0 11, Cook
1-8 2-4 4, Podbelsek 1-2 0-0 2, Hays 1-1 0-0 2, Harris 0-2 0-0
0, Bowlby 0-1 0-0 0. Team 18-41 7-10 47 3-point field goals 4-15
(Olson 3-7, Gesner 1-2, Podbelsek 0-1, Cook 0-1, Harris 0-1, Van
Hook 0-3) Rebounds 28. Turnovers 10.
Hightower 12, Ingram 7, Cunningham 7, Carter 4, Merriweather 3,
McGuire 3, Smith 2. Team 15-37 3-8 37. 3-point field goals 5-15.
Rebounds 22. Turnovers 13.
Scoring by quarters :
Catching up with the Railers of the past
Louie Schonauer (Nova SE 2-2)
-- 4 games, 6.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg. Next
game: Nov. 29 at West Georgia
Jordan Nelson (Evansville)
-- Nov. 23 at UIC, L 75-79, 5 minutes, 0 points. Next game: Nov.
29 vs. Alabama State
Nathaniel Smith (Loras)
-- Nov. 26 at University of Chicago
Ben Brackney (Bucknell)
-- Nov. 22 at Marist, W 74-68, did not play. Next game:
Nov. 25, Legends Classic
LJHS seventh-grade girls' update
LJHS will play Washington Central
in sectional action on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 6 p.m. at
Tri-Valley Middle School in Downs.
[By JEFF BENJAMIN]
Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles