the game, on the minds of the Railers and their fans was the
condition of junior Joey Olden, who left the game early in the
fourth quarter with an apparent serious hand injury. Olden, whose
layup at the 5:47 mark put the Railers up 43-35, lost his balance on
the drive and landed awkwardly on his left hand. Olden immediately
grabbed at the hand as he was on his back, lying up against the wall under the Railer basket for a couple of minutes. Once to his feet, Olden, who
scored a career-high eight points, went straight to the end of bench
and began applying ice to the hand.
"He's supposed to get it X-rayed
and let me know tonight," Alexander said. "At this point we have to
prepare like he's not going to be available tomorrow (Saturday)."
The Olden injury was a negative during an otherwise positive performance
from the Railer squad that
improved to 2-1 on the season and put themselves in a position to
still challenge for the title of this
year's Eaton Electrical Round Robin Tournament.
The Railers were led by Edward Bowlby's 14 points, but it was
contributions from reserves Tyler
Horchem (12 points) and Bobby Dunovsky (seven), that helped Lincoln
stay close to the Sting while dealing with early foul trouble from
Olden and Will Podbelsek. It was Podbelsek who got a chance to put
Lincoln up before any time had run off the clock after Seton Academy
was assessed a technical foul for dunking during warm-ups. Once
again, the free throw struggles continued, as the senior missed both
The most important play of the game may have been a turnover. When
Gavin Block passed the ball in the backcourt to Max Cook in the
first minute of the game, the ball went right through Cook's hands
and out of bounds. Coach Alexander was quick to send a message to
his junior guard by inserting Horchem into the contest.
"Max is our
point guard and they usually get blamed for everything," Alexander
explained. "But you've got to be ready to play and … sometimes you
need to get a boost in the backside to get back on track."
is how you get to the level of coach Alexander. When Cook
returned to the lineup after Podbelsek had picked up his second
foul, his intensity had increased.
Seton jumped out to a 12-8 lead after Christopher Seaton hit his
fourth 3 of the quarter. Lincoln put together an 8-0 run on
3s from Horchem and Bowlby and a basket from Block. Bowlby ended
the Railer scoring in the first quarter on a reverse lay-in where he
used the rim to protect himself, pushing the lead to 18-15. A late
basket from the Sting cut the lead to one to end the period.
The first batch of unexpected scoring came in the early stages of
the second quarter. With Dunovsky
and Austin Krusz on the floor, replacing Olden and Bowlby, Dunovsky
hit two 3s in a row to put Lincoln ahead 24-22. The Railers had
a chance to add more after the second one, when Block was fouled
while setting a screen to free Dunovsky, but could not capitalize.
Cook was finally able to hit the scoring column with a nice up-and-under move in the lane to give the Railers a 26-22 advantage. After
Seton scored five in a row to take back the lead, Block's two free
throws gave Lincoln the halftime lead of 28-27.
The Sting continued their 9-2 run to jump out to a 32-28 lead to
start the third quarter. If the fans were waiting for the Railers to
finally lose sight of the Sting, the crowd would be disappointed as
the spunky bunch of Railers kept hanging tough. A basket from Cook
followed by an Olden free throw brought the Railers to within one,
and after an offensive rebound from Block, Cook drained a 3 to
put Lincoln back up 34-32. The scoring was all part of a 15-3 run
that stretched into the fourth quarter, including a pair of free
throws from Block that gave Lincoln the lead 36-35 at the end of
the third as well as for good, as the Sting would not enjoy the lead for
the rest of the night.
The offensive output continued in the fourth on a drive from Olden
and big 3 from Bowlby.
Lincoln's next score, another driving layup from Olden, thanks to a
back-door pass from Block, extended the lead to 43-35, but may have
also altered Lincoln's season due to the injury suffered by Olden on
[to top of second column]
The teams traded scoring, and when Bowlby converted on a
traditional three-point play, the Railers enjoyed their first double-digit lead at 50-40.
As much as has been made about the Lincoln free
throw shooting -- just 41 percent over the first two games -- the Sting
had their own issues on Friday. Going just 11 of 19, Seton converted
on only three free throws during the stretch, getting to within
50-43. Bowlby's basket put the lead back to nine at 52-43 and was
Lincoln's final field goal of the game. The final nine points came
from the free-throw line as the Railers missed only three of their
final shots from the charity stripe to secure the win at 61-51.
With the win, the Railers pulled even with Centennial and Seton at
2-1, trailing only Cahokia at 3-0. If things break right on
Saturday, Lincoln still has a chance to get the title. However, it
may be free throw shooting that bites them again. If there is a tie,
the champion is determined by best free throw percentage. First
things first, though, as there are no guarantees in games against
Danville and Champaign Centennial.
It was good night of balance in the scoring column with three
Railers -- Bowlby (14), Horchem (12) and Cook (12) -- in double
figures. Olden added eight before his injury, with Dunovsky's seven and
Block's six points adding to the balance, and Podbelsek scoring
The other games on Friday night saw Centennial down Morton 47-35, and
Cahokia got by Danville 72-50.
Lots of action on Saturday at Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium, with Lincoln
starting at 10 a.m. against Danville, followed by Morton taking on
Cahokia and Seton facing off against Centennial. The night session
starts with Danville going up against Morton, Cahokia battling
Seton, and the Railers finishing off the tournament against
Centennial at 8 p.m.
Bowlby 5 2-3 14, Cook 3 5-6 12, Horchem 3 3-4 12, Olden 3 1-2 8,
Dunovsky 2 1-2 7, Block 1 4-5 6, Podbelsek 1 0-2 2, Krusz 0 0-0 0.
Team 18 16-24 61.
3-point field goals 9 (Horchem 3, Bowlby 2,
Dunovsky 2, Cook, Olden).
SETON ACADEMY (51)
Seaton 15, Shasi 14, Weems 9, Harrison 4, Payton 3, Mooring 2,
Clemons 1, D.Evans 1, E. Evans 1, Foster. Team 16 11-19 51. 3-point field goals 8 (Seaton 5, Payton, Weems,
Scoring by quarters:
Seton Aca 17-10-8-16 51
[By JEFF BENJAMIN]
Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles