Lincoln, with a record of 21-4, was awarded the top seed in the
Bloomington Regional in the upcoming IHSA state tournament. Although
official dates for the games are not set to be released until Friday
afternoon, Lincoln will be playing at Bloomington High School in the
week of Feb. 24 through March 2, with the Railers likely to play
their first game on either Tuesday, Feb. 26, or Wednesday, Feb. 27.
As the top seed, the Railers will open postseason play against
the winner of the game between No. 4 seed Bloomington Central
Catholic (currently 10-11) and No. 5 seed Decatur Eisenhower
The top seed was no lock for Lincoln. Normal University High was
awarded the No. 2 seed with a record of 16-5. The Pioneers are led
by superstar Keita Bates-Diop, who is verbally committed to play
basketball at Ohio State University. U-High will play host
Bloomington, who were awarded the No. 3 seed with a record of 14-10
Although Lincoln Daily News did not speak to Lincoln coach Neil
Alexander in the aftermath of the seeds being released, Alexander
has stated previously that having the top seed would be a
considerable advantage for the Railers because it would allow them
to avoid playing both U-High and Bloomington in the same week.
Down the Rockets
The Railers open a pair of home games this weekend with Central
State Eight foe Rochester.
It's been a struggle of a season for the Rockets, who enter the
game with a 3-21 record overall and a 1-11 mark in Central State
Eight conference play. Rochester also enters the game on an 11-game
In a previous meeting between the two teams, on Jan. 19 in
Chatham, Lincoln prevailed 71-52.
The Rockets hung around in that game early on, before the Railers
pulled away in the second half. After witnessing the first game,
Alexander believes that the Rockets have enough shooters to make
them capable of an upset.
"They shot the ball exceptionally well," said Alexander of the
previous meeting. "They've got some set shooters that if you don't
get out and guard them, they're going to hit shots. They have a nice
kid in the middle, Swaine, who is about 6-foot-8 and has great
timing to block shots.
"We'll have to hit our shots and defend."
[to top of second column]
Say hello to suburban Glenbrook South
On Saturday night, the Railers will host Glenbrook South in a
rare nonconference battle against a team from the Chicago area.
Glenbrook South is located in Glenview, about 20 miles northwest of
downtown Chicago and 13 miles from O'Hare International Airport.
The Titans, who are 12-13 on the season thus far, will travel 177
miles to Lincoln to play at Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium.
Alexander personally scouted Glenbrook South last Friday night,
when the Railers had an off night in Central State Eight conference
"They're very big and physical," said Alexander. "They hit the
boards really hard and they pressure really hard. They'll do a lot
of picking on our defense, I expect. We have to be prepared for
them. They are a very dangerous team, I believe."
Just how did Glenbrook South end up on the schedule?
"We advertised for an open date on our schedule," explained
Alexander. "The IHSA has a board for open dates, and the Illinois
Basketball Coaches Association has a site where you can post open
dates. You just hope that you'll get some teams who will call and
take you up on them.
"We're very lucky. We'll have two more nonconference games at
home next season, against Champaign Central and Oswego. That's about
how it works, by word of mouth."
Alexander believes the Railers benefit from playing nonconference
games against nontraditional opponents.
"We like to play teams from across the state. I like us to have a
variety of competition," said Alexander. "We don't care who it is.
We'll play anybody. Glenbrook South has 2,600 students. We'll play
whoever wants to come and play. Hopefully our fans enjoy it."
[By JUSTIN TIERNEY]