The 2011-2012 season for the Lincoln Railers came to a disappointing
conclusion on Friday night as they fell to the MacArthur Generals
45-35 in the regional final. The Railers end their season at 16-16,
and they will be relegated to being just spectators when the
sectional is played next week at Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium.
everything that went right on Tuesday night against Bloomington,
that many things and more went wrong last night. From the beginning,
it seemed the Railers were half a step slow and not able to match
the intensity of the homestanding Generals. Lincoln almost made
steals, or lost rebounds by not securing the ball -- all things the
Generals were able to capitalize on.
The Railers were able to take an early lead thanks to a free
throw from Christian Van Hook. The senior also had Lincoln's only
basket of the first quarter, finishing off an alley-oop dunk on a
perfect pass from fellow senior Jordan Gesner. The Generals scored
the final five points of the quarter to lead 5-3 at the end of the
first eight minutes.
On Tuesday night, Lincoln was able to get easy scores by driving
the lane. Friday night, MacArthur was able to force the Railers to
find a different way to score. After another Van Hook basket, this
from just inside the free-throw line, tied the contest at five,
MacArthur took their final lead of the first half at 7-5. Since it
worked earlier in the quarter, the Railers found freshman Gavin
Block in the same spot as Van Hook with the result the same, tying
the game at seven. Block's basket started a 9-0 run pushing the
Railer lead to 14-7. The run included a jumper from Max Cook as well
as an offensive rebound from the sophomore and was finished off by
an old fashioned three-point play by Van Hook. Offensively, it
seemed the ship had finally set sail in calm waters. MacArthur
(10-16) answered back with five in a row to cut the lead to two.
Lincoln stretched their lead back to four when Block found a
wide-open Edward Bowlby for a lay-in.
Seeing the seven-point lead shaved down to four at the half, at
16-12, it was giving credence to a point that is brought up
frequently by my radio broadcast partners Tom Larey and Josh Komnick.
Both have mentioned the dangers of letting a team hang around,
giving them confidence and belief they could actually win the game.
Well, the start of the second half belonged to MacArthur, and there
was no question they belonged in the game. After getting the first
basket of the quarter, MacArthur was able to continue their
comeback, turning a Lincoln turnover into a quick basket to tie the
game at 16.
On Lincoln's next possession, frustration abounded. When Austin
Kirby's pass was stolen, the senior set up at half-court and fouled
MacArthur's Deondre Coleman with a solid shoulder block. The foul
was immediately called and whistled as an intentional foul. After
Coleman made both free throws, the Generals were awarded the ball
and stretched their lead when Reggie Anderson made all three free
throws after being fouled on a shot by Will Podbelsek. On the next
trip, MacArthur continued their streaky shooting when Jatavious Lee
sank a 3-pointer, and Lincoln's four-point halftime lead quickly
turned into an eight-point deficit, at 24-16.
As has happened in the latter stages of the season, Lincoln
turned to the seniors in order to get back into the game. A drive by
Van Hook was followed by Gesner hitting both free throws to cut the
lead to four. It was during this segment of the game that the
Railers' defense could not find a way to stop MacArthur. After
another 3 from the Generals, a Cook spin in the lane resulted in a
three-point play opportunity, but missing the free throw left the
Railers down 27-22. By the end of the third, Lincoln was down 29-24,
and for one team, the season had only eight minutes left.
It seemed improbable to believe it would be the Railers.
It probably seemed hard to believe that through the first three
quarters, Lincoln had not yet made a 3-pointer. That was quickly
remedied by Van Hook, who connected from the left corner to bring
the Railers within two. Again, the defense could not find a way to
stop MacArthur as Van Hook's 3 was answered by four from the
Generals. Down six, the Railers were about to make their final run
of the game and of the season.
[to top of second column]
Van Hook hit from about the same spot for his second 3 to cut the
deficit to three. After a Lincoln timeout, the Railers ran the
perfect play for that point of the game. Because Van Hook had
starting hitting from the corner, Lincoln ran the same play.
However, instead of getting the ball to Van Hook in the corner, the
screener Gesner cut to the basket, took the pass and laid it in. On
the next possession, Block was fouled. After hitting the first free
throw, Lincoln had drawn back even at the 4:38 mark. Unfortunately,
he couldn't convert on the second one and the game was knotted at
It was as though the season ended right there. MacArthur was able
to outscore the Railers 12-2 the rest of the way. While MacArthur
was converting on jumpers and free throws, Lincoln's shots were
spinning off the rim, coming up short, or missing but falling in the
hands of the only players ready to rebound. And those players were
all dressed in blue. Lincoln's final basket of the season came from
Gesner as the Railers cut the deficit to 40-35. Gesner was unable to
hit the associated free throw, and Lincoln was forced to foul and
watch the Generals convert from the free-throw line to pull out the
So, that's it. An abrupt end to a very unusual season. For a team
that started 6-10, you would think getting to a regional final would
be out of the question. But as this team started gelling and playing
defense like Lincoln teams are known to, things started turning
around. However, in the end, issues that this team has had
throughout the season reared their ugly head and it was too much to
overcome as the Lincoln season came to an end on Friday night.
The Railers were led by 18 points from Van Hook, the only Railer
in double figures. Gesner finished with six points as did Cook.
Block added three points, while Bowlby scored two.
So, this is where I usually remind Railer Nation when the next
contest is. Sorry to say, it won't be until the Monday before
Thanksgiving. It will go fast. Trust me, this season went fast, too
In the next week or so, look for the follow-up to the season,
including stats and other items of interest from the Railer season.
For now, thanks to all those who listened to the broadcasts and
followed the Railers on Lincoln Daily News. I've had fun being there
and hope you've enjoyed my thoughts on the season.
Van Hook 6 4-5 18, Gesner 2 2-3 6, Cook 3 0-1 6, Block 1 1-2 3,
Bowlby 1 0-0 2, Podbelsek 0 0-0 0, Kirby 0 0-0 0, Olson 0 0-0 0,
Hays 0 0-0 0. Team 13 7-11 35. 3-point field goals 2 (Van Hook 2).
Anderson 5 5-5 17, Coleman 3 2-3 8, Adams 3 2-3 8, Lee 2 0-0 6,
Bartley 0 3-4 3, Allyn 1 1-2 3. Team 14 13-17 45. 3-point field
goals 4 (Anderson 2, Lee 2).
Scoring by quarters:
LCHS 3-13-8-11 35
MacArthur 5-7-17-16 45
[By JEFF BENJAMIN]
Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles