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
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.
[to top of second column]
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?
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
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).
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
Railers are now 0-11 when trailing after the first quarter.
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.
UPDATE ON RAILER ALUMNI
Ben Brackney (Bucknell 16-6); next game
Jan. 28 at Navy
3FG made: 12
Jordan Nelson (Evansville
10-10); next game Jan. 29 vs. Indiana State -- 7:05 p.m. ESPNU
3FG made: 12
Louie Schonauer (Nova
Southeastern 9-8); next game Jan. 28 at Barry
3FG made: 12
Nathaniel Smith (Loras College
4-15); next game Jan. 28 at
(Stats updated only through
3FG made: 3
[By JEFF BENJAMIN;
pictures by Daniel HEMENWAY]
Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles