And unlike Friday night, when the Railers dropped a one-point game
to Glenwood, the free-throw shooting stood atop the tallest pedestal
as a reason for the victory. Lincoln hit nine of their 10 free
throws down the stretch to preserve the win over Moline, also coming
off a loss on Friday night, to Rock Island Alleman.
It was also
apparent the Railer defense did another stellar task of holding down
a high-powered offense, including Moline senior Anthony Lindauer.
The leading scorer for the Maroons, who scored 35 the night before,
including 13 in the game's final 90 seconds, was stifled early by
the Lincoln defense, forcing him into 3-pointers even beyond his
Against Glenwood, the Railers needed an entire first half to
tally five points. On Saturday, it took only about 90 seconds for
Lincoln to jump out to an early 5-0 lead, thanks to a rebound basket
by Gavin Block and 3-pointer from Jordan Gesner. After the Maroons
tied the score, it was the freshman Block who hit a pair from the
free-throw line. The night would only get more impressive for Block,
who led Lincoln with a career-high 14 points and definitely played
his best game as a Railer, something not unnoticed by Lincoln coach
"And Gavin Block, what can I say about him? He came up big,"
Alexander praised, "and he's only going to get better. He's not done
growing, he's been in the weight room, he's going to be a good one."
Up 7-6 beginning the second quarter, just like the first period,
the Railers scored a quick five points to take a 12-6 advantage,
including the first bucket of the night from Christian Van Hook and
a 3 from Block. In another low-scoring half involving the Railers,
Moline scored its only points of the quarter with Lindauer's only 3
of the night. Lindauer, a main focus of the Lincoln defense, was not
allowed to get on track from outside, a key to the Railer win. The
half ended with another Van Hook basket and, looking like an
offensive explosion from Friday night, the Railers (15-14) held a
14-9 lead at intermission.
Moline, coming in a 22-game winner, was not going to give up
early on Senior Night. Lindauer scored an early basket to cut the
Lincoln lead to three. After a pair of Block free throws, Moline
made its biggest run of the night, scoring eight in a row, all the
while watching as Lincoln's main ball handler, Max Cook, went to the
bench with his fourth foul. In what could have been a critical error
by the officials, a defensive play by Van Hook, which appeared to
result in a held ball, was whistled as a foul. However, when the
officials reported the infraction to the scorer's table, it was
signaled against Cook. Moments later, at the 5:44 mark of the third,
the sophomore picked up his fourth foul and to the bench he went.
It was very evident the Railers got out of sync with Cook on the
bench. Moline used the uncertainty to push out to a 19-16 lead.
Without Cook on the floor, Lincoln struggled to find any offense. As
the quarter came to a close, a 3 from Will Podbelsek came up short
from the left side, but Moline was whistled for a foul, resulting in
three free throws. Podbelsek hit all three, tying the contest at 19.
With Cook on the bench and Lincoln not making a single field goal in
the quarter, being even heading to the fourth was not a bad place to
Podbelsek continued his scoring by hitting a 3 from near the top
of the key, putting Lincoln up 22-19. The Maroons found another run,
a 6-0 effort this time, to go back up by three at 25-22. With Cook
back in with the four fouls at the 4:11 mark, the Railers quickly
tied the game at 25 as Block connected on another 3. It would be the
last field goal for Lincoln on the evening.
As time began ticking down, it was Van Hook who was fouled and
sent to the line. Van Hook stepped up, hoping to redeem his effort
from the night before at the line, and hit two free throws to give
Lincoln the lead at 27-25. After a Moline miss, it was senior Jake
Olson hitting a pair from the line with 58 seconds remaining to
extend the lead to 29-25.
The Maroons (22-7) climbed back to one possession at 29-27 with
35 seconds to go. The game's key play came during a bit of confusion
and worked out to the Railers' advantage. With Block heading to the
line to shoot more free throws, Moline coach Ryan Webber was
signaling for a timeout. Now, whether the officials did not see or
hear it or chose not to acknowledge because it was too late, the
ball was handed to Block at the line. Thinking the timeout was going
to be awarded, Moline's DeShawn James left his position on the lane
prior to Block shooting the free throw. When Block's free throw
missed and ricocheted to the left and was grabbed by Moline,
whistles blew and confusion was created.
[to top of second column]
Moline thought they were getting timeout with the ball after the
miss. Lincoln was looking for a lane violation as James left the
lane with the shooter having the ball. After a brief discussion
between the officials, boos cascaded throughout historic Wharton
Field House when the official reported a lane violation had occurred
and Block would shoot the first free throw over. The freshman made
the most of the one-and-bonus by hitting both shots, putting Lincoln
back up 31-27. Even with the mini-controversy, Moline kept after the
Railers, cutting the game back to two at 31-29.
The Railers continued their mastery of the free-throw line as
Cook sank a pair of free throws. On Moline's next trip, it was
Lindauer who was fouled, but he could not convert on both as he
missed the first. Up 33-30, it was Olson sent back to the line.
Olson hit the first, but then missed Lincoln's first free throw of
the night with 13.6 seconds left in the game. Moline's final attempt
at getting close fell short and the Railers grabbed the rebound,
securing win 15 of the year with the 34-30 decision.
Two nights in a row, two defensive efforts holding their
opponents to only 30 points. The defense has certainly figured
something out. If it keeps up, there could be a few games left, even
after the regular season ends Friday night.
Lincoln was led by Block's career night of 14 points, with
Podbelsek and Van Hook each scoring six. Gesner and Olson pitched in
with three, while Cook hit a pair of late free throws.
The night got off to an exciting start in the sophomore game as
Tyler Horchem hit his seventh 3 of the night, this one over two
Moline defenders as time expired, to give coach Gregg Alexander's
squad a 41-38 win. Horchem finished with 21 points.
So, it has come down to this: one game left in the regular
season, and it's set for Friday night at Roy S. Anderson against
Springfield Lanphier. It is a Lions squad that will come in very
upset after being defeated by Peoria Central on Saturday by 11
points. It is also Senior Night, and you are strongly encouraged to
come out and show your appreciation for all those who will be
recognized for their efforts during their time at Lincoln Community
High School. The sophomores will tip at 6, with the varsity set for
Block 3 6-6 14, Van Hook 2 2-2 6, Podbelsek 1 3-3 6, Gesner 1 0-0
3, Olson 0 3-4 3, Cook 0 2-2 2, Kirby 0 0-0 0, Bowlby 0 0-0 0. Team
7 16-17 34. 3-point field goals 4 (Block 2, Podbelsek, Gesner).
Lindauer 4 6-7 15, Wages 2 3-4 9, James 2 0-0 4, Owens 1 0-1 2.
Team 9 9-12 30. 3-point field goals 3 (Wages 2, Lindauer)
Scoring by quarters:
LCHS 7-7- 5-15 34
MHS 6-3-10-11 30
[By JEFF BENJAMIN]
Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles