The contest to wrap up the Eaton
Electrical Round Robin Tournament was a defensive battle from
opening tip to final buzzer. Of the eight team quarters, only twice
did a team hit double figures. Both teams were content to pass the
ball around the perimeter, looking for the best shot. Those "best"
shots were few and far between as both squads excelled on the
defensive end of the court. In the end, Morton made a few more
plays and came away with the win.
Once again, the Railers were
facing a size mismatch. Morton's top player, and Siena recruit, 6-9
Brett Bisping, posed an inside threat as well as an outside scoring
However, the first part of the game belonged to Christian
Van Hook. The senior hit a 3 to open the scoring, starting a run
of Van Hook scoring the first 10 points for the Railers in the
contest. The only other points for the Railers came from Max Cook on
a play created by Edward Bowlby. Bowlby, instead of getting a
rebound, tipped a missed shot to Cook underneath for an easy two.
said before, offense was certainly at a premium, with a first-quarter
score of Morton 6-5 and the Potters remaining in the lead at the
An early basket out of the
locker room by Cook tied the game at 14. The Potters went on an 8-2
run to take their biggest lead of the night at 22-16. Both teams
traded baskets the rest of the way. Just as the Railers would draw
close, Morton would answer to take another step ahead. Undeterred,
Lincoln stayed in the contest and would get a little closer. Down
32-28, Gesner connected for his second 3 of the night to pull
the Railers to within one. Forced to foul, Lincoln sent Morton's
Will Headen to the line. The 6-4 senior made the first but missed
the second, giving the Railers a final shot. With five seconds to go,
the Railers inbounded from the sideline to Gesner, who drove the
baseline and tossed up a 12-footer that missed the mark. Just that
close -- but still not close enough.
The Railers had only three
players in the scoring column for the night. Van Hook, Lincoln's
only representative on the all-tournament team, scored a game-high
18 points, while Cook added seven and Gesner had six.
Van Hook 8-11 1-1 18, Cook 3-6
1-1 7, Gesner 2-6 0-0 6, Podbelsek 0-4 0-0 0, Olson 0-2 0-0 0,
Harris 0-2 0-0 0, Hays 0-0 0-0 0, Bowlby 0-2 0-0 0. Team 13-33 2-2
31. 3-point field goals 3-14 (Gesner 2-3, Van Hook 1-2, Cook 0-1,
Bowlby 0-1, Olson 0-2, Harris 0-2, Podbelsek 0-3). Rebounds 15 (Bowlby,
Gesner 3), assists 5 (Cook 3), turnovers 8.
Bisping 16, Headean 7,
Swinford 6, Dullard 2, Rossi 2. Team 11 9-11 33. 3-point field
goals 2 (Bisping, Swinford) Rebounds 22, assists 1, turnovers 12.
Scoring by quarters:
Saturday morning started with
the Railers facing Seton
Academy, the eventual
tournament champion. The Sting finished 5-0 for the week, and could
score at will, putting up 90-plus points on two occasions. How
important was defense to the Railers on Saturday morning? They were
going over adjustments and schemes in the back gym before suiting up
and taking the court. Whatever they did must have worked. Although
the Sting posted a 52-41 win over the Railers, the 52 points scored
Academy was 15 less than their next lowest scoring game.
It appeared we were headed for
another offensive show by Seton. The Railers had the lead at 17-16
on the strength of a Gesner 3-pointer. When the first-quarter
dust had settled, the Sting held a 21-17 lead over the Railers.
was encouraging to see the intensity and effort from the Railers. In
past tournaments, the Saturday morning game has proven to be
troublesome due to the early hour. Lincoln came out bested in both
speed and size, but as Railer Nation has come to expect, it would
take quite an effort to outdo them in hustle and effort.
Whether it was trying to force
Lincoln to score from the outside or just giving a zone a try for
use later in the season, Seton Academy
went to a zone during the second quarter. It did its job as Van
Hook scored the only basket of the quarter for Lincoln. An unexpected side
effect was the zone also sapped the offensive firepower of Seton
as the Sting managed to score only six points, on one 3-point
basket and three free throws.
[to top of second column]
Up just eight, 27-19, at the
half, Seton Academy
switched back to their normal offensive and defensive sets. A quick
five-point run stretched out the Sting run to 16-2 and a 32-19
lead. The Railers were playing with a newfound confidence that
helped them stay close. Key to the third quarter was the Railers
finding their 3-point range, getting long shots from Will Podbelsek, Cook and Gesner. The teams played to a 16-all tie in the
quarter, setting up a fourth quarter with Lincoln down 43-35.
An early fourth-quarter 3
from Bowlby cut the deficit to five at 43-38. It was at that point
that Seton Academy
took control of the boards and was able to string together another
eight-point run to go back up by 13. The Railers ran out of
time and the Sting picked up the win 52-41.
Gesner 3-10 2-4 11, Van Hook
4-7 2-2 10, Cook 3-5 1-1 8, Podbelsek 2-5 0-0 6, Bowlby 1-2 0-0 3,
Harris 1-1 0-0 3, Olson 0-5 0-0 0, Hays 0-1 0-0 0. Team 14-36 5-7
41. 3-point field goals 8-24 (Gesner 3-8, Podbelsek 2-5, Harris
1-1, Bowlby 1-1, Cook 1-3, Van Hook 0-1, Olson 0-5). Rebounds 21 (Gesner
7), assists 10 (Cook, Van Hook 4), turnovers 12.
Shasi 14, Tolliver 8, Weems 7,
Seaton 6, Foster 6, Robinson 6, Patterson 3, Woods 2. Team 19-48
7-10 51. 3-point field goals 7-23 (Shasi 3, Seaton 2, Weems,
Foster). Rebounds 34, assists 9, turnovers.
Score by quarters:
It is a strange week for the
Railers with a game on Thursday, but no games on either Friday or
Saturday. Lincoln will be at home this Thursday, playing host to
Normal West. The unavailability of the gym this weekend forced the
Railers to move the game to the odd night. Tip time is scheduled for
So the 2011 Eaton Electrical
Round Robin Tournament is in the books. Was it the most successful
five-game season-opening stretch the Railers have ever seen? Of
course not. However, I would be surprised if some lessons learned
during this past week of basketball don't show up later in the
season and lead to wins.
The final standings went this
way (along with any all-tournament team members):
5-0 (Kamal Shashi, J.R. Tolliver and Mark Weems)
Morton 4-1 (Brett Bisping and
Cahokia 3-2 (Keenan Minor)
Lincoln 2-3 (Christian Van
Centennial 1-4 (none)
Danville 0-5 (Dennis
As a reminder, the Lincoln
Junior High seventh-grade girls will play in the
sectional final on Wednesday against Washington Central. The
game is scheduled for 6 p.m. and is being played in Downs. The winner will advance to this weekend's elite eight.
[By JEFF BENJAMIN]
Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles