Monday, February 20, 2012
Sports News

Block party as Railers beat Moline

By Jeff Benjamin

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[February 20, 2012]  MOLINE -- All season, the Lincoln Railers have been searching for a signature win. There have been a number of games the Railers could have won as the perceived underdog, but they let the victory slip through their hands. Well, all that being said, the two-hour-plus drive on Saturday to Moline ended up being worth it as Lincoln spoiled Senior Night at Wharton Field House, knocking off the Maroons 34-30.

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 range.

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 Neil Alexander.

"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 be.

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.

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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 7:30.



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


Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles

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