Saturday, December 22, 2012
 
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Railers take a nail-biting 41-39 win over Glenwood

By Jeff Benjamin

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[December 22, 2012]  For Railer fans who did not get the chance to watch last week's contest at Southeast, Lincoln delivered an encore Friday night, using a career high from junior Max Cook, including a game-winning shot, and a last-second defensive stand to secure the victory.

Cook hit for a game-high 22 points, the last two a driving left-handed layup down the lane with 1.9 seconds remaining, to give the Railers a nail-biting 41-39 win over Glenwood. The Lincoln defense held the Titans from getting a last-second shot, and the Railers improved to 7-2 on the season while boosting their CS8 mark to 3-1.

Just like last week, when the Railers were down 10-0, Glenwood used two 3-pointers from highly touted junior Peyton Allen to run out to an early 8-0 lead. Lincoln did not tally until the 2:40 mark, on a basket from Gavin Block. The bucket ended the eight-point run by the Titans and started a 13-0 run by the Railers. Lincoln's other points in the quarter came on a 3 from Tyler Horchem as the quarter ended. With the score 8-5 in favor of Glenwood, it was easy to harken back to last year's contest at Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium when that was the score at halftime.

The Railers used the momentum from the end of the first quarter to push out to a 13-8 lead on 3s from Will Podbelsek and Cook, along with another basket from Cook. After Glenwood scored to end the run and pull to within three, it was the senior Podbelsek hitting his second 3 of the night to double the Railer advantage. Connecting from long range is nothing new for Podbelsek, whose 54 career 3s leave him just one behind Chad Tungate for 30th all-time on the 3-point list.

Cook, who was held scoreless in the first quarter, continued his outburst in the second. The junior scored Lincoln's last four points of the period, including his only two free throws of the night with under two seconds left in the half. He was sent to the line after Glenwood was whistled for their first foul of the game. Cook's 12 points in the quarter helped the Railers take an eight-point lead into intermission, at 23-15.

Unfortunately, what has become more rule than exception, the Railers continue to struggle in the third. After each team fired up quick 3s on their first possessions of the half, Glenwood got on the board first on a basket from Craig Fuchs. Horchem answered for the Railers to give Lincoln their biggest cushion of the night at 26-17. Both teams exchanged a free throw, and it was time for Allen to begin taking over the game. The leading scorer in the conference scored a quick five to pull the Titans (9-2, 1-2) to within four at 27-23. Another score from Glenwood made it a two-point game, but as has been the case all season, when in need of a clutch shot to push back a run, Podbelsek scored to end the seven-point run and extend the Lincoln lead to 29-25.

After the score from Podbelsek, the Titans continued on their 11-2 run to knot the game at 29 on a shot from Fuchs. The rest of the way, it felt as though Cook and Allen told everybody to get out the way and enjoy the show. The juniors traded scoring punches as Cook scored to put Lincoln up 31-29, only to have Allen tie the game at 31. The only non-Cook points of the quarter came on a layup by Block, which again was answered by Allen.

"He's a tough player," Lincoln coach Neil Alexander said, referring to Allen. "We got out on him and pushed him off the line, but in the second half he got his points on the inside."

Cook struck again, this time from 3-point range, to give the Railers a 36-33 lead. Allen scored again to pull Glenwood to within one. In an attempt to hold the ball for either a layup or, if possible, to run out the clock, the Titan defense held tough and, finally, senior Miles McAdams picked his spot and tipped away a pass intended for Podbelsek. As the Glenwood football quarterback tracked the ball down in the frontcourt and Podbelsek fell, McAdams' layup at 1:34 gave the Titans their first lead since the end of the first quarter, at 37-36.

[to top of second column]

As has been the theme the past two weeks, it was Cook stepping up yet again. With one tick over a minute left in the game, Cook struck for his fourth 3 of the night, putting the Railers back up 39-37. With Glenwood running their offense, most likely looking for Allen, it was Block running through a screen by Allen that sent the junior to the line for two free throws. As he continued his perfect night from the line, going 6 for 6 to tie the game at 39 with 31 seconds to go, it was now up to Cook to take his turn in the "anything you can do, I can do better" battle that was being waged with Allen.

After a timeout, it was Cook working the dribble near the time line, just waiting for his opening. With about five seconds to go, Cook's teammates split from the lane toward the sidelines, leaving a wide-open chasm that he drove and finished off with a left-handed layup that fell with 1.9 seconds to go. After a series of timeouts and a quick pass from McAdams to Brown to get the ball to half-court with 1.1 seconds to go, the Lincoln defense stood tall again, and Fuchs' inbounds pass, intended for Tyler Brown in the near corner, was tipped away, and the Titans' attempt for a game-winner never came to pass, with Lincoln holding on for the 41-39 win.

If the ball had gotten to Allen, there is no telling what would have happened. But, in the battle of Cook and Allen, Cook got the last shot and his team got the win.

Both teams have shown they can score at will, but Friday night it was defense.

"I don't think he (Coach Todd Blakeman) likes to play against the ball press," Alexander said. "And I know I don't like playing against his defense. It was another close game."

Yes, something Railer Nation has gotten used to, with seven of the nine games this season being decided by five points or less.

The 22 points from Cook put him as the only Railer in double figures, with Podbelsek scoring eight, Horchem six and Block five. Both teams put only four players in their respective scoring columns, with Cook and Allen the stars of the game.

The Railers do not get any time to rest, as they are back in action Saturday night, when they travel to Normal West for out-of-conference action against the Wildcats. The contest gets an early start, as the varsity tips at 6:30, with the sophomore squad going at 5. Coach Gregg Alexander's younger Railers will look to continue their winning ways, building off

Friday night's 46-45 win in overtime on Aron Hopp's 3-pointer.

___

LINCOLN (41)

Cook 8-13 2-2 22, Podbelsek 3-6 0-0 8, Horchem 2-6 0-0 6, Block 2-8 1-2 5, Bowlby 0-3 0-0 0, Ebelherr 0-0 0-0 0, Dunovsky 0-0 0-0 0, Krusz 0-0 0-0 0. Team 15-36 3-4 41. 3-point field goals 8 (Cook 4, Horchem 2, Podbelsek 2).

GLENWOOD (39)

Allen 6 6-6 21, Fuchs 4 0-0 8, McAdams 2 2-2 7, Brown 1 1-2 3. Team 13 9-10 39. 3-point field goals 4 (Allen 3, McAdams).

Scoring by quarters:

LCHS 5-18-6-12 41
GHS 8-7-12-12 39

[By JEFF BENJAMIN]

Railer-related information: www.railerbasketball.com

Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles

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