Saturday, January 28, 2012
Sports News

Turnovers costly in Railers' loss to Southeast

By Jeff Benjamin

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[January 28, 2012]  SPRINGFIELD -- The last time Lincoln and Southeast battled on the hardwood, the Railers found themselves down early due to their inability to stop the outside shooting of Southeast's Herman Senor. The junior connected on four first-quarter 3s to vault the Spartans to an early lead. On Friday night at Scheffler Gymnasium in Springfield, the Railer defense held Senor to a single free throw in the first eight minutes. The problem? They had no answer for Chris Davis. 

The 6-foot-2 senior dominated the inside, both scoring and rebounding, en route to a game-high 17 points, leading his Spartans to a 54-37 Central State Eight victory. The loss drops the Railers below. 500, a mark Lincoln fought very hard to reach last week at the Meijer Winter Classic. But Mr. Davis, who scored only five in the first meeting earlier this month, came to play. 

"Chris Davis is an animal out there," Lincoln coach Neil Alexander said. "He goes to the basket and rebounds his area, and he also rebounds everybody else's area."

Davis found success both receiving the ball at the free-throw line and taking 10- to 12-foot jumpers, or grabbing the ball off the boards and getting easy putbacks. Simply put, Lincoln did not have an answer for Davis' hustle and it cost them. 

After the Railers (11-12, 5-6) scored the game's first basket, Southeast, thanks to a bevy of turnovers from the road team, ran off 10 in a row. Max Cook, who struggled early with Southeast's run-and-jump pressure in the backcourt, broke the string with a floater in the lane to cut the score to 10-4. 

After Senor's lone point of the first quarter, Jordan Gesner brought the Railers closer with a 3. The make allowed the senior to move into 20th place on the Railers' all-time list of 3-pointers made. His 79 3-pointers allowed him to break a tie with Brandon Booth and Eric Graue. 

But those nagging turnovers. Every time the Railers would score and get a stop on the defensive end, they could not enjoy their good fortune and would turn it back over. When Lincoln would make a shot, Southeast would answer. The easy baskets were the most frustrating. A number of times in the first half, a missed Southeast shot was followed by Railers watching the rebound while the Spartans were grabbing the miss and putting it back up and in.  

Lincoln tried to get a little more going on the offensive end to start the second quarter. A drive by Cook led to an inside pass to Christian Van Hook, who scored his first basket on a dunk. The senior, who had scored a career high of 25 in a game at Roy S. Anderson, was held to just seven on the night. Down 19-10, Lincoln got 3s from Gesner and Will Podbelsek. 

Sandwiched around a Southeast 3, the Railers had pulled to within six at 22-16. For much of the game, it seemed Lincoln could not break the six-point barrier. When they would get close, the Spartans (11-6, 7-4) would stretch the lead out again. As the game reached the half, it was fortunate Southeast struggled from the foul line, making only three of their nine attempts.  Otherwise, the 10-point lead would have been much more for the Spartans. 

The turnovers were an issue all night, and having a dozen in the first half statistically backed up the sense that the Railers just could not get any rhythm going the first 16 minutes.

Early in the third quarter, down 31-20, Lincoln was able to put together their best run of the game, thanks in large part to Cook. The sophomore, who led the squad with nine points, also may have played his best floor game of the season. Being the one player in the green who consistently made an effort to drive to the basket, Cook either got to the basket or set up his teammates.

A Cook layup followed by a Van Hook free throw brought the Railers to within 31-23. After a Spartan basket, Cook's drive to the basket saw the Southeast defense collapse to him, leaving a wide-open Jake Olson hit a 3-pointer. The next possession, it was Podbelsek who was the beneficiary of Cook's drive, as he hit his second trey of the night.   

With Southeast starting to cheat to the outside, Cook's no-look pass near the free-throw line to Gavin Block and the resulting layup pulled the Railers as close as they had been since 11-7, at 35-31.

A score in the final minute gave the Spartans the lead at 37-31, but Lincoln closed back to four on an alley-oop pass from Austin Kirby to Van Hook, who grabbed the pass and laid it in. Down just four, things were looking good as Lincoln outscored Southeast 15-9 in the third and were down 37-33. 

I don't know if it was fatigue or simple will, but the fourth quarter belonged to Southeast. The Spartans went on a 13-2 run to open the quarter, the turnovers reared their ugly head once again, and the intensity the Spartans had in the first quarter returned, as did Lincoln's inability to match that effort. Only Block and Van Hook tallied in the quarter, while Southeast got 15 from their big three of Senor, Davis and Tives Gardner. It turned into one of those nights. 

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For only the second time this season, the Railers failed to get a player in double figures, with Cook's nine leading the way. Van Hook scored seven, Podbelsek had six, while Block added four, and Olson connected on a 3. Gesner, who scored all eight of his points in the first half, did not play in the second half.      

So, where to from here?

After the game, coach Alexander was pleased that the team did not quit, but stated that this team needs to be willing to play tough. "Some lessons were learned tonight," Alexander said.

Let's hope those lessons are learned quickly because next up for the Railers is the state's No. 1-ranked team in 3A, the Lions from Lanphier. The contest will be Friday night at Lober-Nika Gymnasium in Springfield.

Early thoughts on the game from coach Alexander: "This team (Southeast) is good. Next week, I don't know how to describe them, but we'll show up and see what happens." 



Cook 3 3-5 9, Gesner 3 0-0 8, Van Hook 3 1-2 7, Podbelsek 2 0-0 6, Block 2 0-0 4, Olson 1 0-0 3, Kirby 0 0-0 0, Hays 0 0-0 0, Bowlby 0 0-0 0.  Team 14 4-7 37. 3-point field goals 5 (Podbelsek 2, Gesner 2, Olson). 

Southeast (54) 

Davis 17, Gardner 15, Senor 13, Strong 5, Bolden 2, Henry 2. Team 21 7-13 54. 3-point field goals 5 (Gardner 3, Senor 2). 

Scoring by quarters: 

LCHS     7-11-15- 4   37
SEast     11-17- 9-17  54 


  • The Railers are now 0-11 when trailing after the first quarter.

  • By playing in the game, Austin Kirby moves into a tie for 20th in games played as a Railer. Kirby is now even with Dave Cadwallader and Dave Haufee.


Ben Brackney (Bucknell 16-6); next game Jan. 28 at Navy

GP:  18

FG%:  50

3FG%:  60

3FG made:  12

REB:  1.2

AVG:  3.0   

Jordan Nelson (Evansville 10-10); next game Jan. 29 vs. Indiana State -- 7:05 p.m. ESPNU

GP:  18

FG%:  43

3FG%:  40

3FG made:  12

FT%:  0/2

REB:  0.4

AVG:  2.3   

Louie Schonauer (Nova Southeastern 9-8); next game Jan. 28 at Barry

GP:  17

FG%:  29

3FG%:  26

3FG made:  12

FT%:  84

REB:  1.9

AVG:  3.5   

Nathaniel Smith (Loras College 4-15); next game Jan. 28 at Cornell College
(Stats updated only through game 18)

GP:  18

FG%:  28

3FG%:  20

3FG made:  3

FT%:  86

REB:  2.6

AVG:  2.5

[By JEFF BENJAMIN; pictures by Daniel HEMENWAY]

Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles

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