Last year at Wharton Field House, it was Horchem hitting his seventh
3 of the night as the horn sounded to give the Railer sophomores an
exciting 41-38 decision over Moline. Flash forward to Saturday
night, when the junior made only one 3, but he saved it for the best
possible moment as his jumper with 3.9 seconds to go in overtime
rescued the Railers and made Senior Night a much happier occasion as
Lincoln downed Moline 49-46. A desperation 3 from Moline's Drew
Owens hit the backboard and front of the rim, then fell harmlessly
to the floor as the Railer student section mobbed the Red and
This one will go in the win column, certainly
not in the well-played one.
"We were lucky," coach Neil Alexander said after game. "We did
just enough to win, but we were lucky. It should have never come to
that, up 10 or so. They are a good team, but if we play like that
again, it will be a short postseason for us."
There is always cause for concern on Senior Night as the players
tend to be a little more hyped than normal. Saturday, the Railers
did a good job of staying composed and playing under control.
Getting the scoring started -- where have I heard this before? --
was junior Edward Bowlby. His two 3s put Lincoln up early at 6-3. In
almost a carbon copy of Friday night's win over SHG, an early score
came from the lone senior, Will Podbelsek, whose pull-up pushed the
Lincoln lead to 8-5. Where the similarity from last night comes in
is that a similar shot was Lincoln's only two-pointer of the first
half against the Cyclones and now against the Maroons. The next
field goal for Lincoln (25-4) inside the 3-point line would not come
until less than two minutes was left in the third quarter.
After the game was tied at 8, Podbelsek and Max Cook hit 3s to
push the lead to six. Moline early on was proving it would not go
away, with physical play down low in the paint as they scored the
last five of the quarter to pull within one at 14-13 heading into
the second quarter.
Things got a little more interesting to start the second stanza
as Podbelsek was fouled driving to the basket. Moline's Bryan
Brinker was a little too proud of his accomplishments in blocking
the shot and fouling the senior, so much so that his taunting was
done in front of an official, who immediately hit him with a
technical foul. Lincoln struggled early from the line as "Pod" split
the free throws from the foul line while Gavin Block hit the first
of the technical foul shots only to see his consecutive streak end
at 19 when he missed the second. After Moline brought the game back
to within one, it was Bowlby for the third time from 3-point range
to put the score at 19-15.
When Moline's Ted Wood hit his second 3 of the night to make the
score 19-18, the Railers went on their only real run of the night, a
9-0 run to drive out to a double-digit lead at 28-18. The run was
fueled by 3s from Cook and Podbelsek, while Cook and Bowlby combined
for three free throws. The Maroons (17-12) rounded out the
first-half scoring as Lincoln went in enjoying an eight-point lead
Everything was looking pretty good at Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium
as the third quarter started as Podbelsek hit a 3 from near the
front line on the volleyball court, giving the Railers their largest
lead of the night at 31-20. Moline, a team from the Western Big 6,
showed again that it would not go away. In fact, they decided Senior
Night needed a bit more drama.
The Railers' defensive effort was not at its usual high level.
During an 11-0 run to tie the game at 31, Moline's Brian Vice
converted two conventional three-point plays, while Wood tied the
game at the 2:38 mark of the third by hitting three free throws. His
trip to the line was second time a Moline player had been fouled
shooting a 3. Lincoln was suffering through a stagnant offense and,
at times, a tired-looking defense.
Alexander shared the same thoughts. "I thought we looked tired
out there," he said. "We've tried to cut back on some of our
conditioning, but we definitely did not play a full game out there."
The pressure the Railer defense was able to apply got them the
lead back with baskets from Block and Podbelsek. After Cook hit both
free throws late in the quarter, it was another foul on a 3 attempt,
this one at the buzzer, and Moline's Derrick Stabler hit two of the
three to leave the Railers with only a two-point lead going into the
fourth at 37-35.
With all the momentum turning toward the Maroons, it seemed the
switch was complete when Tyler Biscontine drained a 3 with 6:34 to
go to put Moline on the top for the first time at 38-37. A free
throw from Podbelsek tied the game at 38, only to see Moline go
inside again to stretch their lead to 42-38.
[to top of second column]
Of Lincoln's 14 field goals on the night, 11 came from behind
the arc and, other than the game-winner from Horchem, there were
none bigger than Bowlby's that cut the lead to one and Block's
that tied the game at 44 after Moline had scored again. Moline
went back on top 46-44, but a drive to the basket by Block
resulted in two more free throws, and after he made them both to
tie the game at 46 at the 1:04 point of the fourth, things were
setting up for a nail-biting finish.
I'm not a coach and have never professed to be, but the use of
timeouts by the Moline coach was quite baffling. Using three
timeouts in the span of 30 seconds, the Maroons had the ball to end
regulation, but with all the timeouts that were called, their
last-second shot to win it fell way short. I would like to think
after that many timeouts there would be a better look than what they
Heading into overtime for the fifth time in the season, going 2-2
in the first four, the Railers were able to win the tip, but a
missed shot resulted in a quick free-throw attempt for Moline as
Stabler was fouled on a rebound. The Maroon senior helped out the
Railers by missing the front end of the one-and-one as well as
Bowlby being fouled on the rebound and getting his own chance to
strike first in the extra session. But Bowlby, a 77 percent
free-throw shooter entering the night, missed as well, and about 30
seconds into overtime, both teams were struggling to put points on
As Lincoln tried to run out the clock with under 50 seconds to
go, Bowlby's pass on the sidelines was stolen by Stabler, setting up
Moline's final look at the basket. All Moline was waiting for was a
chance to win it at the buzzer, and Lincoln's defense needed a stop.
With Owens and Biscontine playing catch near the timeline, it was
the quick hands of Cook that got the steal. The junior took the ball
down the sideline, under the basket and pitched it out to a
wide-open Horchem, who drained the 3 as the crowd went wild.
With 3.9 seconds to go, Moline took their final timeout after
getting the ball to half-court and only .9 seconds running off the
clock. Their inbounds pass was to Owens, who let one go from about
40 feet, and whatever you want to call it -- luck, kharma, the
ghosts of Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium -- the ball did everything but
go in as the Railers prevailed on Senior Night 49-46.
There is something so fitting about Podbelsek leading the way on
Senior Night with 15 points. By the way, the two uniform numbers
that Podbelsek has worn in his Railer career are 14 and 1, which
adds up to 15, his points in his final appearance in front of the
home crowd. Man, I have got to get a hobby if I'm starting to think
of stuff like that.
Bowlby's 14 points were next on the scoring column, with Cook
adding nine and Block scoring eight. Oh yeah, last but certainly not
least, Horchem had a 3-pointer -- you know, the game-winner.
So, it has come down to this. One final regular-season game and
then it's win or go home. Friday night will be as tough a game as
the Railers have played all season as they travel to Lanphier with
an opportunity to clinch at least a share of the CS8 title on the
line. It would be a huge boost of support to turn Lober-Nika
Gymnasium into Railer Nation Annex South.
And don't think Tyler Horchem was the only villain in the eyes of
the Moline fans. Payton Ebelherr's 3-pointer in the final seconds
capped off a mad comeback as the sophomores prevailed in the night's
opening contest 45-42.
Podbelsek 5 2-4 15, Bowlby 4 2-3 14, Cook 2 3-4 9, Block 2 3-4 8,
Horchem 1 0-0 3, Olden 0 0-0 0, Krusz 0 0-0 0. Team 14 10-15 49.
3-point field goals 11 (Bowlby 4, Podbelsek 3, Cook 2, Horchem,
Vice 17, Wood 11, Biscontine 8, Stabler 6, Owens 2, Larson 2.
Team 16 10-15 46. 3-point field goals 4 (Biscontine 2, Wood 2).
Scoring by quarters:
MHS 13-7-15-11-0 46
LCHS 14-14-9-9-3 49
[By JEFF BENJAMIN]
Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles