Monday, February 18, 2013
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Horchem to the rescue as Railers prevail in OT

By Jeff Benjamin

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[February 18, 2013]  If we ever find out that Moline coach Jeff Schimmel has recurring nightmares about Tyler Horchem, I think we'll have a good body of evidence as to why.

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 Green-clad victors.

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 at 28-20.

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 got.

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 the board.

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, Block).


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


Railer-related information:

Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles

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