Monday, December 01, 2014
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Railers win the doubleheader to take top spot in Eaton Round Robin

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[December 01, 2014]  LINCOLN —  The Lincoln Railers used a doubleheader sweep on Saturday to win the 2014 Eaton Electrical Round Robin Tournament at Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium. The wins over Cahokia and Morton gave Lincoln back-to-back titles in the tournament for the first time since 1999 and helped the school reach 1,700 wins in school history.

After the hiccup on Wednesday night in the loss to Mahomet-Seymour, the Railers turned things around and closed out this year’s tournament with a solid Saturday. The prospects of a title this year were looking bleak until Mahomet-Seymour dropped both games on Saturday, meaning if the Railers could win out, their victory over Centennial on Friday would prove to be the difference as Lincoln had the head-to-head advantage over the Chargers.

Lincoln finished off the tournament with a 43-29 win over Morton. The fact it was a low-scoring affair was not really a surprise as, in recent history, these two teams have certainly not run the batteries down on the scoreboard. The 29 points scored by Morton are the fifth fewest in a game in the annals of the tournament, while the 72 points combined by both teams is the fifth fewest as well. Three of the four fewer point games were games between the Railers and the Potters.

In a game in which Lincoln never trailed, the Railers also found out what it would be like to play without senior Gavin Block as he was forced to sit for about half the second half with foul trouble, eventually fouling out with 2:24 left in the game. Fortunately, while on the bench, Lincoln was able to build the lead without their leading scorer. However, it is a situation Railer Nation hopes will not be the rule as opposed to the exception.

“No, they were not smart fouls,” Coach Neil Alexander said. “However, it’s something he has to learn from and not do. But, if he comes out in the next game and does the same thing, then he didn’t learn from his mistake.”

The first half was a back and forth battle between the two familiar foes. Jordan Perry, as he did earlier in the day, put the Railers on the board with a three-pointer only to be answered by Morton’s Jared Liddle. Block, one of two Lincoln players on the all-tournament team, put Lincoln back up with the first of his four threes on the night. Sophomore Ryan Altenberger, Morton’s only representative on the all-tourney team, knotted the game at six. Steals and layups from Will Cook and Aron Hopp, the other Railer to make the tourney team, gave Lincoln a 10-6 advantage. Payton Ebelherr rounded out the first quarter scoring with a three of his own and the balanced Lincoln attack took a 13-10 lead into the second quarter. Balance was key early on for the Railers as each starter connected for a basket in the first eight minutes.

The second quarter remained close as the teams traded baskets, Morton’s all from three point range, a fact that concerned Alexander. “They had 19 points in the first half, but hit five threes so 15 of those points came from three pointers. We told them we need to do a better job of covering their shooters.”

In the second half, they certainly did. As the second quarter came to a close, it was Hopp doing the scoring on cuts to the baskets, getting assists from Cook and Block. The Railers had the lead at half 23-19, but a key would be the outside shooting of Morton. The Potters (1-4) took only two shots inside the three-point line in the first half.

After Block, the tourney’s leading scorer with 107 points in the five games, hit a three to put Lincoln up 26-21, a rebound basket from Altenberger got Morton as close as they would be the rest of the night. Hopp continued his career night, getting fouled after a basket on a baseline drive. His free throw put the Railers up by six, a margin that looked in jeopardy when at the 2:53 mark of the third quarter, Block picked up his fourth foul on a reach-in at half court. This would be the first time all season the Railers would be forced to play without the senior.

Apparently, no problem.

The Railers went on a 9-2 run to take a 36-25 lead and when Block returned with 3:50 to go in the game, Lincoln had pulled out to a 38-27 lead. Block wasted no time in getting back in the flow of things when he drained his fourth three of the game to stretch the margin to 14. It would be his final basket of the night because at the 2:24 mark, Block was whistled for his fifth foul on a play about as far away from the Morton basket as you can get. However, Morton could not take advantage and did not score the rest of the game while the Railers finished things off at the free throw line for the 14 point win.

After a night earlier having to leave the game early after being elbowed in the head, Hopp, who received three stitches, led the way with a career best 15 points. Block was in double figures with 13, while Cook added six. Perry scored five on the evening with Ebelherr chipping in with four

In the morning contest, the Railers came back from an early seven-point deficit to get past Cahokia 61-47. In a rematch of last year’s supersectional contest in Springfield, both teams were dealing with the graduation loss of key players. Fortunately for Lincoln, the Railers had enough to get the win.

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After getting down early 7-0, Jordan Perry finally got Lincoln on the board with a three-pointer. A basket from Cahokia’s DeVonte Williams pushed the deficit back to six. Lincoln stormed back to take the lead with an 8-0 run. Payton Ebelherr got the run going with a drive and lay-up. The senior, who had not looked for his shot much in the first three games, was the key to getting the Railers back in the game.

 “Payton played a great game today; he set the whole tempo for the game,” Coach Neil Alexander said. “Him getting to the basket set up what we did today. But, even if he doesn’t score, he is important to us. He is our point guard and the point on our defense and can affect the game without scoring.”

After a lay-up from Will Cook, it was Ebelherr again with the lay-up to tie the game at nine. Lincoln took their first lead on an offensive rebound basket from Gavin Block. Cahokia free throws tied the game at 11, but Block hit a three pointer to give Lincoln the lead for good at 14-11. Another drive by Ebelherr and three from Block helped Lincoln to a 19-16 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Lincoln put the game away early with a dominating 19-5 run over the second quarter. After a drive and lay-in by Aron Hopp, the Railers got three-pointers from Will Cook and Block. After another drive and score from Ebelherr, Cook hit on one of his four threes after the typical extra-pass mentality. Block had an open three, but the extra pass found Cook more open. It was Cook to end the first half scoring with another three and Lincoln headed to the locker room up 38-21.

“We definitely executed better today,” Alexander said. The second half was more of the same for Lincoln, running the offense with precision to find the open shots. Even though they were down early, and had beaten Danville by 34 points on Monday, the win over Cahokia may have been their best team game of the week.

A nine-point run from Block gave Lincoln a 57-35 lead and gave him a game-high 26 points, his third game of the tournament of 25 or more points.

Along with Block’s 26, Cook and Ebleherr joined in double figures with 14 and 12 points respectively. Perry added a three-pointer, while Hopp, Isaiah Bowers, and David Biggs each scored two.

The Railers will now get the week off before heading to Springfield on Saturday. As part of an all-day shootout at the Prairie Capital Convention Center where all ten Central State Eight teams will open conference play, Lincoln is scheduled to take on Jacksonville at 7:30. It is the eighth game of the day, so be prepared for a game that may start a bit later than that.

The final standings for this year’s tourney look like this: Lincoln 4-1, Centennial 4-1, Mahomet-Seymour 3-2, Cahokia 2-3, Danville 1-4, Morton 1-4. The all-tournament team members were: Lincoln (Gavin Block and Aron Hopp), Mahomet (Connor Diedrich and Christian Romine), Centennial (Nick Finke and Quin Nottingham), Morton (Ryan Altenberger), and Cahokia (Montez Crumble).


Block 9 4-4 26, Cook 5 0-0 14, Ebelherr 6 0-0 12, Perry 1 0-0 3, Hopp 1 0-0 2, Bowers 1 0-0 2, Biggs 1 0-0 2, Aeilts 0 0-1 0, Fry 0 0-0 0. TEAM 24 4-5 61. 3-point FG 9 (Cook 4, Block 4, Perry).


Crumble 9, Williams 9, Harrison 6, Bell 6, Franklin 6, Davis 5, Hill 2, Brown 2, Chism 2. TEAM 17 8-11 47. 3-point FG 5 (Harrison 2, Crumble 2, Davis)

LCHS 19-19-13-10 61
CAHOKIA 16-5-12-14 47


Hopp 6 3-5 15, Block 4 1-2 13, Cook 2 2-2 6, Perry 1 2-2 5, Ebelherr 1 1-4 4, Aeilts 0 0-0 0, Bowers, 0 0-0 0. TEAM 14 9-16 43. 3-point FG 6 (Block 4, Perry, Ebelherr)


Altenberger 13, Liddle 8, Ham 4, Rossi 2, Bolt 2. TEAM 11 2-2 29. 3-point FG 5 (Alternberger 3, Liddle 2).

LCHS 13-10-9-11 43
MORTON 10-9-4-6 29

[by Jeff Benjamin]

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