Monday, February 04, 2013
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No déjà vu for the Railers

By Jeff Benjamin

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[February 04, 2013]  SPRINGFIELD -- In the movie "Groundhog Day," Bill Murray's character continues to relive the same day one day after another. On 2013's observance of Groundhog Day, Lincoln coach Neil Alexander was hoping his Railer squad would avoid a case of déjà vu against Springfield. Back on Jan. 4 at Roy S. Anderson, a spirited Senator team gave the Railers a lesson in intensity and effort in the first half, resulting in only a six-point lead and an intermission speech focusing on that for Lincoln.

Fortunately for the Railers, the only case of "Where have we seen this before?" belonged to the Senators.

After scoring only 17 points in the first half in the earlier matchup, the Railers ran up that many and more en route to a convincing and dominating 53-28 victory over Springfield. The win allowed Lincoln to stay tied at the top of the CS8 standings with Southeast, both teams now sporting an 11-2 conference mark.

As the Railers (21-4) have seemingly done over the past few games, the scoring started on a 3 from Edward Bowlby. The junior led the scoring parade for the night with 14 points, the fourth time in the last five games that Bowlby has reached double figures. He continued his hot start by scoring on a reverse layup after a lob from Max Cook. Springfield was able to get on the board to make it 5-2, but then Lincoln hit the gas. A 12-0 run helped the Railers match their first-half point total from the earlier game and extend the lead to 17-2. Even two timeouts from Springfield coach Matt Reed could not stop the Railers on Saturday night.

After Bowlby's hot start, it was time for other Railers to show what they could do. Will Podbelsek scored on a backdoor layup. After another basket from Bowlby, it was Gavin Block taking his turn. The sophomore scored eight in a row over three straight possessions to close out the run. No disrespect to Springfield, but Lincoln made sure this one was over early. Podbelsek scored on another backdoor layup to close out the first-quarter scoring, putting the Railers up 19-4.

Things did not get much better for the Senators in the second quarter. After Springfield's Connor Jacobs hit the first of his five 3s, Cook got Lincoln on the board in the second with a steal and layup. The Railers had another run up 21-10, this one going for another nine in a row before halftime. Joey Olden joined in the fun with a basket, followed by another Bowlby 3. Buckets from Podbelsek and Cook rounded out the first-half scoring and Lincoln went into the locker room up 20 at 30-10.

So the third quarter was different? Not really. A patient possession from the Railers led to a 3 from Podbelsek to start the second half. Olden then came up with a steal and the night's only hold-your-breath moment. As Olden went up for the layup, he was fouled and went to the floor hard under the basket. Shades of the play that resulted in Olden breaking his arm in the early stages of the season, one could close their eyes and relive the play. This time, Olden got up unscathed, a relief to all, and sank the free throw to convert the conventional three-point play as the Lincoln lead grew to 36-10.

When Jacobs hit the only basket for Springfield, another 3, there was a quick answer from Cook, who drove the lane and was able to get the ball to the basket after being fouled hard. The play was a testament to Cook's strength, which has grown since last season.

Coach Alexander had praises for the work put in to improving the strength of the Railers.

"Coach Gregg (Alexander) is in charge of the weightlifting, and he's done a great job of getting the guys in to lift," Alexander said. "It's also a credit to Superintendent Bagby and the board of education for their efforts in improving the weight room, which has been good for athletes and the P.E. classes."

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Springfield did have a 5-0 run to start the fourth to pull back to the halftime deficit of 20 at 38-18. The Railers were able to put the game away with their third run of the game, this one a 15-2 spurt. Tyler Horchem hit his only 3 of the night to get the ball rolling, followed by two reverse layups from Bowlby. Cook then delivered two 3s in a row, the second of which put the Railers up 51-21 and was the 200th 3-pointer made for the season. The Railer scoring ended with a nice drive in the lane by Will Cook. The Senators were able to score the game's final seven points, but if you're looking for the perfect example of "too little, too late," this was it.

As the Railers dribbled the ball out and the horn sounded at Willard Duey Gymnasium, it was a 53-28 win for the Railers. The score wasn't too far off from the first game, the 52-29 win in Lincoln.

It was a pretty uneventful night, a game the Railers seemed to have under control about three minutes in. So, was the focus on getting off to the good start? Coach Alexander was a little more philosophical.

"This week, we focused on opportunities to play," said Alexander. "We wanted to remind them that there were not many more opportunities to play. This is a fun bunch to coach, they work hard, they're just a treat to be around."

The Railers put two in double figures, with Bowlby leading with 14 while Max Cook added 12 points. Podbelsek scored nine while Block pitched in with eight. Olden played great defense and scored five, with Horchem scoring three and Will Cook adding two.

After having only one game for the weekend, it's back to normal with a doubleheader weekend on tap this week. Friday night, the Railers will begin a four-game homestand by hosting Rochester, a team that scored 52 against the Railers at Chatham, yet still lost by 19 to the Railers. Saturday night, visitors from the north, Glenbrook South, will descend on Lincoln.

The other Railer news of the week will come out on Thursday. If the schedule holds true, the IHSA will release the seeds for the upcoming tournament, with the pairings to be released on Friday. The Railers will be playing in the Bloomington Regional, with Bloomington, Bloomington Central Catholic, Normal U-High and Decatur Eisenhower also assigned to that regional. Will they be a No. 1 seed? There's one IBCA Hall of Fame coach who thinks so.

"Definitely. Especially in the conference we play and the competition, we've done enough to be the number one seed, but we'll see how it all comes out," Alexander said.



Bowlby 6 0-0 14, MCook 5 0-1 12, Podbelsek 4 0-0 9, Block 3 0-0 8, Olden 2 1-1 5, Horchem 1 0-0 3, WCook 1 0-0 2, Krusz 0 0-0 0, Dunovsky 0 0-0 0, Conrady 0 0-0 0, Perry 0-0 0, Ebelherr 0 0-0 0, Hopp 0 0-0 0. Team 22 1-2 53. 3-point field goals 8 (MCook 2, Block 2, Bowlby 2, Podbelsek, Horchem).


Jacobs 17, Pearl 4, Kincaid 3, Church 2, Stephens 2. Team 10 2-2 28. 3-point field goals 6 (Jacobs 5, Kincaid).

Scoring by quarters:

LCHS 19-11-8-15 53
SHS 4-6-3-15 28


Railer-related information:

Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles

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