Monday, February 11, 2013
Sports News

Railers face an unfamiliar foe

By Jeff Benjamin

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[February 11, 2013]  Fresh off their conference win over Rochester on Friday night, the Railers entered Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium on Saturday against an unfamiliar foe in Glenbrook South. The Titans may have done their homework regarding the Lincoln offense, forcing the Railer scoring system to struggle for much of the first half. As far as the defense, the Titans failed that test as the Lincoln defense again forced an opponent to look less than stellar in their 54-28 victory.

Knowing the Titans favored a tough, pressure, man-to-man defense, the Railers turned to their myriad of plays set up to take advantage of the possible overplays by Glenbrook. Early on, by coach Neil Alexander's own admission, the timing of the Railer offense was absent, thanks in large part to the defense of the Titans.

The Railers were able to stay in the game early on thanks to Will Podbelsek.

The senior provided the only offense Lincoln was able to muster through much of the first quarter, but his eight points gave the Railers an 8-7 advantage, taking the lead after Podbelsek converted a steal into a layup. A Gavin Block 3-pointer was the only other scoring for Lincoln as they took an 11-7 lead into the second quarter.

Just like the night before, the Railer defense was near the top of its game, forcing turnovers. Unfortunately, the shooting from the contest against Rochester did not linger into Saturday. Opportunities created by the pressure were not turned into points. Halfway through the second quarter, Lincoln (23-4) held only a slim 12-10 lead. You didn't necessarily feel like Lincoln was in danger of losing, but there was some uneasiness as to if, and or when, something would get the team out of its malaise.

Enter Joey Olden.

The junior, who missed much of the season with a broken arm suffered in the third game of the season, forced a steal and made a layup at the 3:50 mark to spark a 12-2 run to end the first half. The run included two 3-pointers in a row from Edward Bowlby, and when the defense ran out to check Bowlby, who was setting up for a third 3, the Titan defense forgot all about Tyler Horchem, who slipped a screen and scored on a shot in the lane. His field goal would be the last two-point shot the Railers would make until late in the game. But don't worry; that's not a bad thing at all.

The home squad would continue the momentum, outscoring Glenbrook 20-3 in the third quarter to stretch their run since Olden's steal to 32-5. All of Lincoln's points in the third came from either the free-throw line or behind the 3-point line. The long-range marksmanship came from Block, Bowlby and a pair from Max Cook. Fittingly, the period ended on a 3 at (actually after, but who's counting) the buzzer from an unlikely source in Austin Krusz, the first of his career from 3-point range.

But it seems all of this can be directed back to the lift created by Olden in the second quarter. What did Alexander think of Olden's hard-nosed play? Wait, maybe I shouldn't have said nose.

"Well, we're always telling him to stick his nose in there, and how does he get rewarded?" Alexander said. "He's come out with a broken nose." My broadcast partner, Josh Komnick, questioningly verified with Alexander about his report. "I wouldn't kid you," Alexander stated.

First it was the broken arm and now looks like a broken nose. Something tells me he is the type of player who will not let this affect him, especially on the defensive end, where he has become a weapon as effective as some of the long-range bombers on the offensive end.

The fourth quarter was reminiscent of Friday night's game, when a number of the reserves were able to get in well after the game's outcome had been decided. The Railers got scoring from the line by Olden, Krusz and Adam Conrady. Baskets from Payton Ebelherr and Will Cook rounded out the Lincoln scoring.

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It was a dominating weekend for the Railers, who gave up only 59 points over the two games. For a team that is challenging the school's all-time defensive average, allowing less than 30 points a contest is not going to hurt in their journey.

We've gotten used to the defensive efforts by the Railers as well as balanced scoring, and the contest against Glenbrook South was no different. Block was the only Railer to reach double figures, leading the team with 10 points, with Bowlby scoring nine and Max Cook and Podbelsek adding eight each. Olden's efforts were also seen on the offensive end with seven points. Krusz scored four and Horchem put in three. Will Cook and Ebelherr each had two, with a lone free throw coming from Conrady.

The 23-4 record is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but it's important to also give credit to coach Gregg Alexander's sophomore squad. The younger Railers improved to 20-1 with a 55-30 win as Will Cook paced the team with 16 points.

So, only three regular-season games to go. It will be another two-game weekend at home, starting with Friday night's matchup with SHG. The Cyclones were the last team to defeat the Railers, a 44-41 loss in Springfield. If the Railers have any hopes of staying in contention for at least a share of the CS8 crown, a win over SHG is an absolute necessity. One would have to believe the atmosphere will be quite intense, and a good turnout from the Railer Nation would be appreciated.

"The guys have worked hard and they deserve it," coach Alexander said in response to the fans turning out to provide support for a team that could turn out to have a special season.

Both Lincoln and Southeast are tied for the CS8 lead, with each having two games left. Lincoln hosts SHG and then travels to Lanphier to end the regular season, while Southeast travels to Rochester and finishes their campaign at Glenwood.

The sophomores will tip against SHG at 6 p.m. with the varsity scheduled for 7:30.



Block 2 4-4 10, Bowlby 3 0-0 9, Podbelsek 3 1-1 8, MCook 3 0-0 8, Olden 1 5-6 7, Krusz 1 1-2 4, Horchem 1 1-2 3, WCook 1 0-0 2, Ebelherr 1 0-0 2, Conrady 0 1-2 1, Perry 0 0-0 0, Dunovsky 0 0-0 0, Hopp 0 0-0 0. Team 16 13-17 54. 3-point field goals 9 (Bowlby 3, MCook 2, Block 2, Podbelsek, Krusz).


Nikitas 10, Seigel 8, McCarthy 4, Dahiya 2, Buisel 2, Sadowski 2. Team 10 4-7 28. 3-point field goals 4 (Nikitas 2, Siegel 2).

Scoring by quarters:

LCHS 11-13-20-10 54
Glenbrook 7-5-3-13 28


Railer-related information:

Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles

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