Thursday, November 28, 2013
Sports News

“2-0 ugly better than 1-1.”
By Jeff Benjamin

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[November 28, 2013]  LINCOLN — When the Lincoln Railers and Morton Potters get together for their annual battle during the Eaton Corporation Tournament, it is usually a safe bet that points will be at a premium. Two years ago, the teams combined for only 64 points in Morton’s 33-31 victory. Last year, Lincoln was able to survive a 31-29 win with only 60 points scored between the teams. So, this year, was different, right?


Setting the mark for fewest total points scored in a tournament game since 1999, the Railers withstood a tough defensive effort by the Potters in a game that saw only 56 points scored and headed into Thanksgiving with a 32-24 win on Wednesday night at Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium.

Let’s hope some dressing and pumpkin pie will get this out of their system.

It was a game that failed to reach any type of rhythm, and thanks to the defensive efforts, the Railers spent much of their offensive possessions outside the three point line. On the occasions when a Railer ball handler would penetrate into the lane, more times than not, the ball would be kicked back out for a three or to continue to look for a better shot. At the very least, an attempt near the basket may get Lincoln to the free throw line. On Monday night, those were guaranteed points. Last night, the free throw shooting seemed just as frustrating as the home squad hit only 5 of 12 attempts.

Morton got on the board first with a rebound basket while the Railers struggled to find anything to get points on the board. Lincoln was finally able to score on a back door cut and basket from the team’s leading scorer on the night, Joey Olden. The senior took a nice look from Gavin Block to knot the game at two. Proving how effective the Railer offense can be, using the same set on the next trip, Olden was covered up on the back cut, but Block found a wide open Edward Bowlby in the far corner. Bowlby’s three gave Lincoln a 5-2 lead. It seemed rather obvious there may not be much scoring as the Railers held a 6-4 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Another basket from Block put Lincoln (2-0) up 8-4. As happened Monday night against Centennial, the presence of junior Will Cook provided a little spark. Cook missed a three from the corner, but was able to charge in from the corner, get the rebound, getting fouled on the shot. Converting on just one of the shots, Cook extended the lead to 9-6. Again, it was Lincoln’s rebounding difficulty that kept Morton in the game. All three of Morton’s scores in the first half were the direct result of offensive rebounds. It was an area Lincoln struggled with all night, being outrebounded 32-21, with the Potters coming down with 15 offensive rebounds.

Starting the third quarter up 10-6, the Railers suffered a bout of déjà vu. On Monday, it was Centennial scoring two quick baskets to climb back into the contest. Against Morton, a five point burst gave the Potters their first lead since early in the game. Leading scorer Cory Dullard, who did not attempt a shot in the first half, got the scoring going with a three pointer. That was followed by another rebound putback by Ian Saathoff and just that quickly, the Potters had gone ahead 11-10.

The few times the Railers drove to the basket resulted in positives for Lincoln. Down by one, Olden got by his defender getting a layup to go down. Morton came back and got the ball to Dullard who pushed the lead back to the Potters (0-2). It was Olden again answering by driving the right side of the lane, putting Lincoln up 14-13. As tough minded and solid defensively Olden is known for, it’s with the ball the team may be looking to him more. “We need him (Olden) to score for us,” Coach Neil Alexander said. “He can do that and we will need it.”

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The Railers were able to stretch the lead to four thanks to Max Cook. Based on how well he does it and how many times he hit big shots last year, Cook drained what has to be his signature shot. With Cook hanging back to be part of the secondary break, the senior pulled up just behind the top of the key to hit his only three of the night. Adam Conrady hit from just inside the three point line and the Lincoln lead grew to six at 19-13. Dullard continued his second half resurgence by hitting another three to cut the Lincoln lead in half.

Max Cook connected with just under three seconds to go to push the lead back to five at the end of the third quarter at 21-16. Starting the fourth quarter, it was Dullard hitting another three to get the Potters as close as they would be for the rest of the night. The defense for the Railers adjusted to pay less attention to the other remaining Morton players and focus on Dullard. Whether it was Olden or Cook, Lincoln was willing to allow the other Potters freedom while making sure Dullard had no room to maneuver.

The offense finally was able to put together a run, certainly not an offensive juggernaut, but when a game only has 56 points, you won’t see much. A jumper from Conrady started a 10-2 run that put the game out of reach and allowed Railer Nation to enjoy their Thanksgiving Eve with the eight point win. It was not the picture perfect system for winning, but it was a win. It is very un-Railer like to have more turnovers (11) than assists (8) for the game. However, as my former broadcast partner Tom Larey texted me after the game “2-0 ugly better than 1-1.”

Olden’s career high of nine points led the Railers with Max Cook scoring eight and grabbing a team high 6 rebounds. Bowlby added six points, with Conrady and Block contributing four points. Will Cook had the only other scoring for the Railers with a free throw. Block led the way handing out assists with five.

The next game is Friday night as Lincoln will play host to Chicago Harlan. Game time is set for 8:00 and will be the third game of the Friday session. The other game at Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium saw Cahokia easily handle Harlan 79-51.


Olden 4-5 1-2 9, M.Cook 3-4 1-3 8, Bowlby 2-5 0-0 6, Block 1-4 2-5 4, Conrady 2-3 0-0 4, W.Cook 0-2 1-2 1, Horchem 0-1 0-0 0, Ebelherr 0-2 0-0 0, Krusz 0-0 0-0 0. TEAM 12-26 5-12 32. 3-point field goals 3-13 (Bowlby 2-4, M.Cook 1-2, Olden 0-1, Horchem 0-1, Block 0-1, W.Cook 0-2, Ebelherr 0-2).



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