"We've had a lot of those," coach Neil Alexander said after his
squad fell to 6-9 on the season and 2-3 in the conference. "We just
have to find a way to win them. We're right there."
If you weren't at Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium on Saturday night as the Railers reached the halfway point of the regular season, no matter
the outcome, you missed a good basketball game. A game filled with
runs, comebacks and some outstanding individuals efforts kept the
crowd on the edge of their seats until the final buzzer. That buzzer
sounded as Jordan Gesner's 3 to tie the game bounced off the rim
and was grabbed by Chris Davis from Southeast to capture the
Davis was one of the three bad guys in the eyes of the Railer
Nation. The Southeast senior corralled a game-high 13 rebounds,
dominating the glass on both ends of the court. It was one of the
areas of focus for the Railers going into the game.
something we stressed; it was on our board: rebound the basketball,"
Alexander said. "When we did the little things like blocking out,
then we would stand there and let them get it. We have to go after
It was another area of focus that eluded the Lincoln defense, mainly
in the first quarter.
"Our board said 14 is a great shooter,"
Alexander commented, referring to Southeast junior Herman Senor. "We finally decided to pay attention, but it shouldn't have taken
four made shots to do that."
In fact, Senor scored Southeast's first
dozen points. Senor's final three of the quarter ignited a 10-2 run
to put the Spartans up 19-12.
How important was Senor to the early success for Southeast? The
Railer defense held him scoreless in the second quarter, allowing
Lincoln to have their best quarter of the night and turn a seven-point deficit into a four-point lead at the half. The quarter
started just as Friday's night second eight minutes did, with Max
Cook turning a Railer steal into a layup to cut the deficit to five.
A Tives Gardner
3 put Southeast up eight, but two 3s from Gesner and an old-fashioned
3-point play from Christian Van Hook
put the Railers in the lead 23-22. Gardner hit again from long range
to give the lead back to the Spartans (7-6, 4-2). An alley-oop from
Cook to Van Hook tied the contest; then 3s from Cook and Van
Hook put Lincoln up six. A late score from Southeast cut the game to
four at the half.
An easy score by Southeast to start the third cut the Lincoln lead
to two. Van Hook, who led the team with a career-high 25 points,
scored the first Railer points to get the game to 33-29. After a
Spartan bucket and a Van Hook free throw, the Spartans connected
from long range to tie the contest at 34.
In continuing the theme of runs, it was Cook and Van Hook scoring
in a 5-0 spurt to push the lead to 39-34. The Spartans returned the
favor with a little extra. A 7-0 run put Southeast back up 41-39. A
Van Hook basket tied the game at 41 as the seesaw affair headed to
the fourth quarter.
Now, we've revealed the first two of the three bad guys for
Southeast. First, Davis the rebounder, then Senor the shooter. The
third one? Gardner the subtle. The 5-9 senior, who had only eight
points at half, scored five more in the third. Gardner wasn't flashy
from long range or grabbing rebounds, but his leadership kept the
Spartans settled, leaving them in a position to be even heading into
the final quarter.
Another 3 from Southeast put the visitors on top 44-41 to start
the quarter. The Railers got back to within one after a Cook drive
down the left side of the lane against the Southeast big men. A pair
of free throws from Southeast, followed by Gavin Block hitting his
only two free throws of the night, left the Railer deficit at one.
Van Hook's final basket of the night, a 3-pointer, gave
Lincoln the lead at 48-46. The back-and-forth of the CS8 battle
continued with Southeast tying it but the Railers taking the lead
right back after Cook connected on two free throws, two of his
career-high 12 points. The advantage went back to Southeast on
another 3. Down 51-50, the Railers went for the lead with Van
Hook trying a top-of-the-key 3-pointer. The senior missed but
was fouled on the shot and, after missing the first free throw, hit
the next two to give the Railers the lead 52-51.
[to top of second column]
Once again, the pendulum swung to Southeast as they went up
53-52. The biggest play of the final portion of the game came
when Gesner's 3 was missed, rebounded by Southeast, who
scored on a run-out and was fouled by Van Hook. The 3-point
play put the Spartans up 56-52. Showing the heart to not give
up, Gesner hit from the right side behind the arc with 19
seconds remaining to bring Lincoln to within one. Two free
throws from Gardner, who quietly scored a team-high 20 points
for coach Lawrence Thomas, pushed the game back to three. The Railers' final hope bounced off the rim on Gesner's shot and,
probably fittingly, Davis grabbed the board to seal the win.
Lincoln was led by Van Hook's 25 points and four rebounds, while
Gesner scored 14 and had four boards as well. Cook was the third
Railer in double figure with 12 points while adding three
steals. Block was the only other player on the board for Lincoln,
with four points.
It wasn't the Lincoln shooting. The Railers finished the game
making 18 of their 33 shots (55 percent), including almost 50
percent from 3-point range (9 of 19). Lincoln held Southeast
to 44 percent, but it was the rebounding and inability to hold
down Senor to start the game.
These teams will meet again in
late January in Springfield. The atmosphere will certainly be
different. For the sake of Lincoln and the Railer Nation, let's
hope the outcome is as well.
The Railer sophomore team picked up another win, taking the
Both the sophomores and the varsity will be back
in action on Friday night. Lincoln will welcome SHG to Roy S.
Anderson, with varsity tip time scheduled for 7:30.
Van Hook 8-11 5-7 25, Gesner 5-10 0-0 14, Cook 4-6 3-3 12, Block
1-2 2-2 4, Podbelsek 0-2 0-0 0, Kirby 0-0 0-0 0, Olson 0-1 0-0
0, Hays 0-0 0-0 0, Bowlby 0-1 0-0 0. Team 18-33 10-12 55. 3-point field goals 9-19 (Van Hook 4-6, Gesner 4-9, Cook 1-1,
Podbelsek 0-1, Olson 0-1, Bowlby 0-1). Rebounds 16 (Van Hook,
Gesner 4), assists 10 (3 tied with 2), steals 6 (Cook 3),
Gardner 22, Senor 18, Anderson 7, Strong 6, Davis 5. Team 19-43
10-11 58. 3-point field goals 10-21 (Senor 6, Gardner 4).
Rebounds 26, assists 11, steals 6, turnovers 11.
Scoring by quarters:
Lincoln 12-19-10-14 55
Southeast 19- 8-14-17 58
Other notes: The schedule was released for the 2012 Meijer
Winter Classic at Glenwood the week of Jan. 16-21. The Railer schedule shakes out this way:
Monday, Jan. 16, 6:30
p.m. -- vs. Jacksonville
18, 5 p.m. -- vs. Taylorville
Friday, Jan. 20, 8
p.m. -- vs. Glenwood
Saturday, Jan. 21, 11:30
a.m. -- vs. Rochester
Saturday, Jan. 21, 6:30 p.m. -- vs. Highland
[By JEFF BENJAMIN; pictures by DANIEL HEMENWAY]
Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles