Wednesday, January 02, 2013
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Railers finish Schnucks Classic with 3-1 consolation

By Jeff Benjamin

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(Originally posted Dec. 31)

[January 02, 2013]  COLLINSVILLE -- The Lincoln Railers' stay in Collinsville lasted until Saturday, just as hoped. And they were able to come home with a title and a 3-1 record from their stay. However, it was not the 3-1 record they were hoping for, and the plaque commemorating their consolation championship was accepted but not celebrated.

Lincoln completed a Saturday sweep with wins over Belleville Althoff and Granite City to win the consolation championship at the 29th annual Schnucks Holiday Classic in Collinsville. The wins will allow the Railers to head into 2013 with a record of 11-3. However, it's been a while since a three-win stay in Collinsville has been met with so much disappointment.

"Well, we finished 3-1," coach Neil Alexander said, "but it's not the right 3-1. We put ourselves in this situation by not finishing out Thursday."

The Railers closed out their stay on Saturday night with a come-from-behind overtime victory over Granite City 53-45. It was almost a reversal of fortune from Thursday, when it was the Railers watching a second-half lead disappear on the way to an overtime loss. Lincoln used a 9-4 run to close out regulation, fueled by a 3 by Tyler Horchem and two from long range by Will Podbelsek, the second with 38 seconds left, to knot the game at 41.

In the overtime, it was junior Max Cook taking over. Cook, who led the team with 16 points in the game and was Lincoln's lone representative on the all-tournament team, scored 10 in the extra session to defeat the Warriors. Cook's only other points in the contest came in the closing minutes of the first half, when his first 3 of the night tied the game, while another from behind the arc put Lincoln up three at the half.

Playing for the third time in two days, the Railers got off to a slow start against Granite City (8-6). Lacking the offensive rhythm that had been exhibited in the past two games, Lincoln trailed 8-5 at the end of the first quarter. The largest lead either team held in the first half was only four, as both teams showed the effects of the weekend. After baskets from Edward Bowlby and Austin Krusz, Lincoln got a couple shots to go down from Podbelsek to tie the game at 13.

A three from Granite City put the Warriors back on top, but the 3s from Cook gave Lincoln the halftime lead. Unfortunately, the intermission seemed to come at the wrong time for Lincoln as, for the first time all night, the offense started to look more like it had. When the third quarter started, a quick start by Granite City forced a timeout to settle the Railers down. With the game tied at 19, another basket from Lincoln's most consistent player on the night, Bowlby, put Lincoln up 21-19. The Warriors' best opportunity to win came at the 2:56 mark of the third, when Bowlby picked up his third foul and had to retreat to the bench. Without the junior, Granite City was able to impose its will on the Railers and run off an 8-0 spurt to take command 29-21.

The Railers got a basket from Gavin Block prior to the end of the quarter and then another at the start of the fourth to pull Lincoln to within four at 29-25. After a Warrior basket, Horchem hit his first 3 of the night to cut the deficit to three. Granite City then split a pair of free throws, allowing two big baskets from Bowlby to tie the game at 32. Just as dominant as Bowlby had been, both on the boards and defensive end as well as scoring, there was nothing he could do after the 1:55 point of the fourth, when he picked up his fifth foul with the Railers trailing 34-32.

Down 37-32, a big shot was needed, as it has been all season, and was delivered by the senior Podbelsek. Three of his 13 points brought the Railers to within two. After two more Warrior free throws, Horchem's 3 pulled Lincoln to within one, setting up Podbelsek's game-tying 3 from the right corner.

On Thursday, Oakville was the team that tied it late and took all the momentum into overtime. Saturday night, the Railers took a page out of that book. Using the 8-0 run by Cook, including the wide-open 3s from the top of the key, Lincoln was able to put together a strong four minutes, including going 6 of 7 from the line, and come out with the eight-point win.

Alexander was pleased about the win, but not completely in the manner in which they got it. "Yes, it was a good comeback, but we should have never put ourselves in that situation,' Alexander said. "This team has to be more consistent. The teams that have the real good records at the end of the year are more consistent, not a roller coaster like this team has been."

The nightcap saw three Railers in double figures, with Cook scoring 16, Podbelsek 13 and Bowlby 10.  Horchem and Block each added six, while Austin Krusz, who played a big part defensively due to the absence of Bowlby, scored two.

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Lincoln was able to reach the consolation championship after a convincing 21-point win earlier in the day over familiar foe Belleville Althoff. It was rather obvious that only one team really seemed like it wanted to be on the court for the 1 p.m. start. Not many probably saw the 47-26 win for the Railers coming.

From the opening tip, the Railers showed that if they were going to be there, they may as well show up ready to play, and that they did. Lincoln raced out to a 13-5 lead at the end of the first, powered by the last eight of the quarter from Max Cook. Five Railer points in a row from Gavin Block extended the Lincoln lead to 18-7. Tyler Horchem continued his long-range efforts in Collinsville, finishing the weekend with 14 3s, to push the Lincoln lead at the half to 24-9.

Althoff was able to pull within 10 to start the second half, causing Lincoln to take a timeout at the 5:50 mark of the third. Whatever was discussed must have worked, as the Railers stormed off to a 7-0 run to stretch the advantage to 31-14. Leading 32-19 starting off the fourth, Edward Bowlby scored six of his eight points in the quarter to help put the game out of reach.

A 9-2 run to end the game gave the Railers a solid 47-26 victory. Unlike the first two games, Lincoln used balanced scoring, as Max Cook led the way with 12 points and Block finished with 11, while Horchem scored nine and Bowlby added eight. Podbelsek scored three and Will Cook hit a pair of free throws.

Hard to believe the season is one game away from being halfway through. Lincoln will be back on the court Friday night as the Railers return to Roy S. Anderson, hosting Springfield in Central State Eight play. The varsity is set to tip at 7:30, after the sophomores get things started at 6.



MCook 4 2-4 12, Block 4 2-2 11, Horchem 3 0-0 9, Bowlby 4 0-0 8, Podbelsek 2 0-0 5, WCook 0 2-2 2, Drusz 0 0-0 0, Dunovsky 0 0-0 0, Ebelherr 0 0-0 0, Perry 0 0-0 0. Team 17 6-8 47. 3-point field goals 7 (Horchem 3, MCook 2, Podbelsek, Block).


Renner 8, Krause 5, Young 4, Strieker 3, Gooch 3, Furmanek 3. Team 10 4-5 26. 3-point field goals 2 (Strieker, Krause).

Scoring by quarters:

LCHS 13-11-8-15 47
Althoff 5-4-10-7 26



MCook 4 4-4 16, Podbelsek 5 0-1 13, Bowlby 5 0-0 10, Horchem 2 0-0 6, Block 2 2-2 6, Krusz 1 0-0 2, WCook 0 0-0 0, Dunovsky 0 0-0 0. Team 19 6-7 53. 3-point field goals 9 (MCook 4, Podbelsek 3, Horchem 2).


Miller 10, Walker 10, Grimes 9, Garcia 7, Narvaez 7, Wallace 2. Team 14 12-17 45. 3-point field goals 5 (Miller 2, Walker 2, Garcia).

Scoring by quarters:

LCHS 5-14-4-18-12 53
GCHS 8-8-13-12-4 45


Railer-related information:

Collinsville Schnucks Holiday Classic

Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles

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