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
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."
[to top of second column]
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
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
"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
[By JEFF BENJAMIN]
Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles