Saturday, January 12, 2013
Sports News

Railers knock off 8th-ranked Lions to stay near top of Central State Eight

By Jeff Benjamin

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[January 12, 2013]  The last time Lanphier played a game at Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium, the team wearing the Lincoln jerseys walked out the winner. Friday night was no different.

Let's turn back the clock to last season's IHSA sectional final in Lincoln. Due to a misunderstanding, Lanphier did not bring the correct uniforms to wear for the matchup. The solution: The Lions wore the green road uniforms of the Railers en route to the win that sent them to a supersectional. Last night, the right team was wearing the Lincoln uniforms as the Railers knocked off the eighth-ranked Lions 49-39 to stay near the top of the Central State Eight.

In what was one of the best games of the year, junior Max Cook outplayed Lanphier's Larry Austin Jr., leading his squad to the 10-point victory. Cook's 16 points, including 10 in the second half, helped Lincoln improve its record to 13-3, 4-1 in the CS8. The Lincoln defense, focused on the highly regarded recruit from Lanphier, held Austin without a field goal after the first quarter.

After the Lions jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, Cook scored the next four to put Lincoln up and begin the evening's back-and-forth affair. Senior Will Podbelsek followed with a 3 to extend the Railer lead. Lanphier knotted the game at seven, only to have Podbelsek strike again from long range to give the advantage back to the Railers at 10-7. A basket from Edward Bowlby ended the first-quarter scoring for the Railers, but Austin put an exclamation point on a well-played first quarter as he hit from right in front of the Railer bench to tie the game at 12.

In what would be a game of runs, Lanphier scored first in the second quarter to take a 14-12 lead. It was Cook again connecting on a drive to tie the game at 14. The junior seemed completely unaffected by being defended by one of the top defenders in the state in Austin.

The Railers knew a passive plan would not prove successful.

"We knew we had to be aggressive, take the ball at them," Lincoln coach Neil Alexander said. "Austin is a good, good player out there, but you've got to be able to play on both ends of the court. Max played really well tonight against him."

A Lanphier (10-6, 4-3) basket again gave the lead to the Lions, only to have the Railers score six in a row on buckets from Gavin Block and Bowlby and 2 of 3 free throws after Block was bowled over shooting a 3-pointer. The pendulum swung back to the Lions as they went on a 7-2 run to end the half, including a basket from Eddie Smith as time expired, giving Lanphier the halftime lead at 23-22. Smith led the Lions with 15 points on the night.

As had seemingly been the case all night, Cook got the scoring started again for the Railers as his basket put Lincoln up 24-23. The Lanphier pressure defense and up-tempo style started giving Lincoln trouble at the beginning of the third quarter. A quick 5-0 run gave Lanphier their largest lead of the night, up 28-24.

The Railers connected for only five 3-pointers in the game, three in the second half, but all of them came consecutively as the Railers charged back ahead. Cook's only 3 of the night drew Lincoln closer, while Tyler Horchem's first of two 3s on the evening put Lincoln up 30-28. At the 4:51 mark of the third, Cook picked up his third foul, while less than a minute later, Block mimicked his teammate in foul trouble. Horchem's second 3 took a little of the sting out as his make stretched the margin to four at 33-29.

Up 35-32, Lincoln looked to extend even more with seven seconds to go. As the Railers ran their play, each pass ended up exactly where it was supposed to, with the final pass going to Bowlby on the low block. His layup as time expired in the third would increase the Lincoln lead going into the fourth… had he made it. His miss from point-blank range was one of those "uh-oh" moments, hoping that miss would not come back to haunt the home squad.

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It didn't take long for Lanphier to take advantage as they scored the first four points of the fourth to take their final lead of the night at 36-35. But give credit to the Railers. In the past, being down in the fashion they were might have been enough to break the spirit of the team. Not this night. The Railers held their composure and answered right back and then some. A basket from Podbelsek put Lincoln up 37-36 and the run was on. A basket from Cook preceded a pair of free throws from Bowlby as the lead grew to 41-36.

When freshman Xavier Bishop, Lanphier's only serious 3-point threat, fouled out, all of the defensive attention turned to Austin. The junior was held to just one free throw in each of the last three quarters. On this night, try as he might, he would not be enough to bring his team back.

Bowlby climbed into double figures as his basket put Lincoln up 43-36. The Railers' final six points came from the free-throw line as they did what was needed from the stripe, going 8 of 11 during the fourth quarter to cement the win 49-39.

"This was a big win, but I don't want to put all our stones in one basket," Alexander said. "We have a lot of season left, and we have to come every night to play. Based on the way we played tonight, I think we could be a tough out for anyone later in the season."

Cook and Bowlby led the way with 16 and 10 points respectively, with Cook also grabbing seven rebounds. Podbelsek finished with nine, Block scored eight, and Horchem added six. The Railers played only seven players on the night with Podbelsek, Horchem, and Bowlby playing all 32 minutes and Cook and Block leaving the floor sparingly due to foul trouble.

The Railers' stretch of seven games in nine days continues Saturday when a familiar foe from Big 12 days returns to Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium as the Green Wave from Mattoon come to town. The night is scheduled for an early tip with the JV going at 5 and the varsity set for 6:30 p.m.



MCook 6 3-5 16, Bowlby 4 2-2 10, Podbelsek 3 1-4 9, Block 1 6-7 8, Horchem 2 0-0 6, Ebelherr 0 0-0 0, Krusz 0 0-0 0. Team 16 12-18 49. 3-point field goals 5 (Podbelsek 2, Horchem 2, Cook)


Smith 15, Austin 8, Bolden 5, Millican 4, Wallace 3, Mitchell 2, Bishop 2. 16 6-13 39. 3-point field goals 1 (Austin).

Scoring by quarters:

LCHS 12-10-13-14  49
Lanphier 12-11-9-7  39


Railer-related information:

Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles

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