Coach Alexander's squad knocked
off Chillicothe IVC 60-41 in a nonconference matchup at Roy S.
Anderson Gymnasium to improve to 7-10 on the campaign and give the
Railers confidence and momentum heading into this week's Meijer
Winter Classic in Chatham. In almost every aspect of the contest,
the game with the Grey Ghosts was a complete 180 from Friday night
"We were not here mentally last night," Alexander
said. "Tonight, we executed and made better decisions with our
With Max Cook
returning to the starting lineup and senior Austin Kirby getting his
first start of the season, Alexander was looking for a way to get
off to a fast start, using intensity as the catalyst.
a penalty for the guys who aren't starting," Alexander explained. "They're
all going to get about the same minutes, it will just be in
Well, the change certainly
worked, at least for Saturday night. IVC
never held the lead, and the flow of the game seemed to favor Lincoln
from the opening tip. Senior Jordan Gesner got off to a quick start,
first six points on two 3-pointers.
Gesner is slowly climbing the
career 3-point list. His 68 treys have him 23rd,
just three behind his teammate last season, Nathaniel Smith. The
Railers extended the lead on two Gavin Block free throws after the
freshman drove the lane and made a move toward the basket, something
Lincoln did not try much the night before. Block has certainly
impressed in his inaugural season, especially from the free-throw
line, missing only one of his 21 attempts this season.
IVC tied the game at eight
before Lincoln ran off six in a row to end the quarter. Cook
connected for a couple of baskets, but the play that epitomized the
night for the Railers on Saturday night came with 25 seconds to
go. To save a possession, while diving to the floor, senior Jake
Olson grabbed a loose ball and flipped it to a teammate before
making contact with the court. The possession resulted in Will Podbelsek hitting two free throws,
giving Lincoln a 14-8 advantage
heading to the second quarter.
One of the areas the Lincoln
coaching staff was concerned about coming into the contest was the
presence of 6-foot-8 senior Jordan Seele. In the first quarter, the
Railer defense collapsed around him, preventing him from being a
Seele was able to get more
touches in the second, which resulted in six of his eight first-half
points. The second quarter was a back-and-forth segment in which
neither team was able to go on any run of note.
For much of the quarter,
Lincoln's lead varied from four to eight points. After an IVC
basket brought the game to 28-22, Lincoln ran their end-of-quarter offense to perfection, and when Podbelsek came around a screen near
the top of the key and drained a 3-pointer with two seconds to
go, all the momentum went into the Lincoln locker room as the home
team carried a 31-22 lead into intermission.
Remember Friday night's third
quarter? Anything and everything that could wrong did, resulting in
one Matt Hays free throw for their only point. Saturday night, it
was just the opposite. The Railer offense was clicking on all
cylinders, while the defense was stifling in their traps, quick
hands and intensity.
Lincoln's first four field
goals of the quarter were from behind the arc, sandwiched around two
free throws from Christian Van Hook. The 3s, two more from Gesner and another from Block, extended the lead to 42-22. Gesner
then made a steal on the inbounds pass and scored on the layup.
finally got on the board with a pair of free throws, half of the
output. Lincoln's next basket came off a missed shot that was
rebounded by Cook. The sophomore, who appeared to know where his
pass was going before he grabbed the ball, slipped a no-look pass to
Block, who laid it in to make it 46-24.
At 50-24, IVC doubled their
scoring with two more free throws. With about 35 seconds to go, Hays
was at the line. He had split the free throws on Friday night and
repeated the feat on Saturday. The only difference, the 19
points his teammates scored prior to his make on Saturday, gave Railer Nation a much easier feeling. It also helped that IVC did not
make as much of an effort to feed the ball in to Seele, holding him
scoreless in the third.
[to top of second column]
Coach Jim Thornton changed
that plan in the fourth, getting the ball to Seele, who scored nine
of his team-high 17 points in the early stages of the quarter.
Lincoln (7-10) equaled their largest lead of the night, 25 points,
at 57-32, thanks to long-distance shooting from some unlikely
sources. Olson and Edward Bowlby hit
3s, and when Olson hit again to make it 60-37, Lincoln had
matched their high game of the season with the 60 points.
The Railers had a good balance
to the scoring, with nine players making marks in the scorebook.
led the way with 16 points (the Railers are 5-2 in games that Gesner
leads in scoring), with Block adding 11. Olson's shooting from long
range netted him nine points, Podbelsek scored seven, and Cook added
six. Van Hook had only four, with Kirby and Bowlby at three
each and Hays adding a free throw.
Lincoln will get the busy
Chatham week started Monday night at 6:30 against Jacksonville. The
Railers will be looking for a little payback after the Crimsons beat
Lincoln 38-36 on Dec. 16. With four conference
games in the next six games, where the Railers stand by this time
next week will go a long way into where they finish in the CS8 and
will give coaches something to think about when seeding the regional.
Now the question: Which Railer
team will we see this week in Chatham? The team that took the floor
on Saturday night could give a tough battle to anyone. If it's the
team from the night before, well, let's not think of that.
past, coach Alexander has mentioned that the players love Chatham
week since practices are limited and they just get to play. This
year's team, how will that affect them?
"I'm not sure it's good for
this team," Alexander said. "This team needs repetition, and without
the practice, I'm not sure how things will go."
Well, if they can
repeat Saturday's effort and performance, their on-court results
could be as good as the hospitality room in Chatham.
Sheryl Crow also had a hit
with "Every Day is a Winding Road." Hopefully, we've seen the last
of the back-and-forth turns, and the Railers will head straight down
the path to postseason success.
The sophomore squad got the
night off to a good start with a 44-31 victory. Coach Gregg
Alexander's team will be in action in Chatham next week as well.
Gesner 6 0-0 16, Block 3 4-4
11, Olson 3 0-0 9, Podbelsek 2 2-2 7, Cook 3 0-0 6, Van Hook 1 2-2
4, Kirby 1 0-0 3, Bowlby 1 0-0 3, Hays 0 1-2 1, Eimer 0 0-0 0,
Heidbreder 0 0-0 0. Team 20 9-10 60. 3-point field goals 5 (Gesner
4, Olson 3, Podbelsek, Kirby, Block, Bowlby).
Seele 17, Reuter 8, Tate 6,
Magee 3, Smithson 3, Seiler 2, Brown 2. Team 15 7-8 41. 3-point
field goals (Eagleton 3, Lowis).
Scoring by quarters:
Lincoln 14-17-20- 9 60
IVC 8-14- 4-15 41
[By JEFF BENJAMIN]
Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles