No luck there.
Instead, the Railers take to the road to face
another of the Central State Eight conference's best teams,
Springfield Southeast. The Spartans enter the game with a record of
5-1 and a 2-0 mark in conference play. Lincoln is 5-2, with a 1-1
mark in conference play.
Southeast is led by two familiar faces at guard: Herman Senor and
Jagger Anderson. Senor and Anderson have played critical roles for
the Spartans since their freshman seasons, when they each hit big
shots to lead Southeast to a sectional victory over Lincoln in 2010.
Senor has also been a thorn in Lincoln's side on the football field;
the starting quarterback and kicker hit a game-winning field goal in
the final seconds to defeat the Railers at Handlin Field this
But, much of their success this season can be attributed to the
improved play of 6-foot-8 center Jalen Henry. Henry enters the game
averaging nearly a double-double, with 13.2 points and 9.7 rebounds
per game. Anderson and Senor average 18.0 points per game and 16.7
points per game, respectively.
Lincoln coach Neil Alexander described Southeast as a versatile
team that can play almost any brand of basketball without problems.
"They can beat you a lot of different ways, and they can beat you
any style you want to play also. That's one thing that makes them
unique," said Alexander. "They can compete against teams that run up
and down the floor, and they'll compete against teams that want to
slow it down. They'll play any style really well. They're really
well-coached and their kids really know how to play."
Another indicator that the game could be close? Lincoln and
Southeast share Cahokia as a common opponent. The Railers fell to
Cahokia 56-51 during their Thanksgiving tournament. A week later,
the Spartans met Cahokia and lost 63-60.
Railers get No. 4 seed in Collinsville tourney
Friday's contest is the first of a potential three meetings
between the Railers and Spartans. The two teams will meet at Roy S.
Anderson Gymnasium on Jan. 26 but could also face off at the
Schnucks Holiday Classic in Collinsville later this month.
Pairings for the annual tournament came out this week. Lincoln
earned the No. 4 seed, while Southeast was seeded third. Another
Central State Eight rival, Chatham-Glenwood, earned the No. 2 seed,
while Belleville East, led by University of Illinois recruit Malcolm
Hill, was given the No. 1 seed in the tournament. Only the top four
teams in the tournament are seeded.
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Lincoln's first game in the tournament is set for Dec. 27 at 1
p.m., when the Railers take on Oakville, Mo.
Alexander said he felt fortunate to be seeded in the tournament,
especially after last week's loss. But the coach also cautioned
against overlooking Oakville.
"I thought it was a pretty good favor, really. I thought if we
won the game Friday night, we'd have a shot at a pretty good draw,"
said Alexander. "It didn't work out that way, so I think we got
pretty lucky to be seeded.
"I'm not sure Oakville is a good draw. I saw where they beat
McCluer North the other night, and McCluer won the tournament a year
ago. I'm not sure how good of a draw we got, and being the No. 4
seed makes people want to beat you. We just have to be prepared. "
Last week's heartbreaking loss to Jacksonville on a buzzer-beater
was eerily familiar for Alexander.
In their opening regional game of the 2000 IHSA tournament, the
Railers lost to Jacksonville on a buzzer-beater at Roy S. Anderson
Gymnasium as well.
Last week's game-winner from Crimson forward Blake Hance came
from nearly the same spot on the floor.
"A lot," said Alexander when asked if he'd thought about the 2000
buzzer-beater at all this week. "I still don't know where we were at
(last Friday). I think we left the gym at halftime. The (2000 shot)
was more on the wing.
"But the bottom line is, you can't put yourself in the situation
where it comes down to the last-second shot. When you're up 10, and
you don't score in the fourth quarter when you're up by eight, it
really sits with you. It did this week."
[By JUSTIN TIERNEY]