Monday, January 16, 2012
Sports News

Spirited Railers take down Grey Ghosts

By Jeff Benjamin

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[January 16, 2012]  A number of years ago, Sheryl Crow had a hit with "The Change Will Do You Good." Now, not all changes do you good, but on Saturday night, Lincoln coach Neil Alexander changed his starting lineup, and the result, yeah, it was good. 

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 and SHG.

"We were not here mentally last night," Alexander said. "Tonight, we executed and made better decisions with our shots." 

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.

"It's not 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 different parts." 


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, scoring Lincoln's 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 factor early.

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. 

IVC 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. 

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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. Gesner 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.

In years 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).  

IVC (41) 

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


Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles

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