In a game Lincoln led much of the first half and the early stages
of the second, the Bulldogs took the lead midway through the third
quarter and never let go. As many times as the Railers fought back
to get close, Mahomet never let go of the lead, eventually pulling
away at the free throw line for the 13 point win. After the game,
Lincoln coach Neil Alexander summed up the contest.
“We got out-toughed tonight.”
In a contest that was much more physical than the opener two nights
prior, even the early lead from the Railers never felt comfortable
as the largest margin Lincoln could gain in the first half was six
points. On each occasion, the Bulldogs fought back, once to tie and
another taking the lead. It was in the second half when the visitors
got the lead and ran with it. Using a 14-3 run to end the third
quarter, the Bulldogs (2-0) only allowed Lincoln to get as close as
three at 42-39, but used a stretch of 14-5 to close out the game.
“We didn’t play tonight with the energy we did Monday night,”
Alexander said. “I told them that I know we are not going to win
every game, and I’m OK with that. But, what is not OK is not
bringing effort and we have to do that every night. “
A key for Mahomet’s defense was their ability to frustrate the
Lincoln shooters, especially Gavin Block. The senior, who had an
impressive 27 point night in the opener, was held to just 12 points,
of that only two points came in the first and fourth quarters
combined. The missed shots from the Railers (1-1) too many times led
to easy run out baskets for the Bulldogs. Coach Alexander was also
disappointed with the reaction of the players to the misses. “We let
our shooting dictate our energy,” Alexander said. “On misses, we
were looking for calls and not getting back.” The Hall of Fame coach
hinted that the topic had been “discussed” after the game.
Let’s not take all the credit from Mahomet-Seymour. The Bulldogs
were led by UTEP-signee Christian Romine with 22 points. At 6’10”,
Romine presented numerous problems for the Railers, problems this
team knows awaits them when facing a team featuring height down low.
Romine scored ten of his game-high tally in the fourth quarter when
the Bulldogs were pulling away.
The night started off looking good as senior Payton Ebelherr scored
the first eight Lincoln points of the game as the Railers took an
early 8-2. Using a solid mid-range game, Romine and Jack Rettig
brought the Bulldogs back to even at 8. Freshman Isaiah Bowers
continued the good start to his varsity career by draining a three
to put Lincoln up 11-8. After another Mahomet score, Will Cook
scored the first three of his team high 15 points. Cook put Lincoln
up 14-10 and was open from three point range thanks to a solid
screen set by Block, however, Mahomet’s Rettig bowled through the
screen knocking Block to the ground where he was holding the back of
his head. It would not be the first time the senior would go to the
An early basket from Aron Hopp put Lincoln’s lead back to six.
Again, Mahomet showed their toughness by scoring seven in a row to
take a 17-16 lead. A free throw from Block tied the game at 17 and
after falling behind again, Hopp knotted the game at 19. At the 2:40
mark, Block tried to take over with a drive to the basket, followed
by a steal and layup to push the advantage to four at 23-19. As the
second quarter was winding down, it was Block again going to the
ground hard under the basket. If you’re like most of Railer Nation,
there is a collective sigh of relief when number 22 gets back up.
Just like the fast start in the first half, a three pointer by Cook
and basket from Block put Lincoln up 28-21. Those would be the only
two field goals the Railers would make in the quarter. The strange
thing about the next part of the game was Lincoln held the lead but
every time the Bulldogs would score, Lincoln would come down, not
running through the offense as usual and take quick shots. The
rebounding prowess of Mahomet-Seymour led to a number of runouts
that found the Railers trailing the play watching the Bulldogs begin
their second half run.
[to top of second column]
By the time Coach Alexander called timeout at the 2:51 mark,
Lincoln’s 28-21 lead had turned to a 33-29 deficit. A pair of free
throws from Block brought Lincoln within two, but two more scores
pushed the game to 37-31.
With the score 40-33, Lincoln began their last best effort to climb
back into the game. Two more three pointers from Cook sandwiched
around a Mahomet score, closed the gap to three at 42-39. However,
the senior leadership of Mahomet combined with the relative
inexperience of the Railers was too much for Lincoln to overcome.
The Bulldogs never allowed Lincoln to put together back-to-back
scores, keeping them at arm’s length the remainder of the night.
After the lead grew to 46-39, it was Cook again whose drive at 3:32
resulted in a three-point play that would bring the Railers as close
as they would be the rest of the way at 46-42. A 7-2 run put Mahomet
up 53-44 when Jordan Perry hit a three. On Monday night, the
Bulldogs finished 28 of 33 from the free throw line and Wednesday
night, the charity stripe is where the Mahomet squad cemented away
the win. A 9-2 run at the end brought the final score to 62-49.
So, we are two games in. There is much more of the season to go and
now we wonder: What is the identity of this Railer team? Are they
closer to the hot shooting, smothering defense from game one or the
out-efforted squad that could not close the game out against
Mahomet-Seymour? The rest of the week will give us a good glimpse
with three games over a two day period on Friday and Saturday. I
certainly don’t expect ten threes in a half like Monday, but I feel
comfortable in saying the effort will return. It must because it
will have to for the team to be successful and there is something
about putting on that Railer uniform that screams hustle and effort.
On the rare night it is not there, it seems noticeable as the
exception not the rule. The effort will return and so will the wins.
There were three players in double figures with Cook tying his
career high with 15, Block adding 12, and Ebelherr also matching his
best with ten points. Hopp added six, with Perry and Bowers each
connecting on a three-pointer.
Lincoln will be back in action on Friday night at 8:00 as they take
on Champaign Centennial, a team Coach Alexander says may be right up
near the top with Mahomet-Seymour in this year’s tournament.
Cook 5 1-1 15, Block 4 4-6 12, Ebelherr 4 0-0 10, Hopp 3 0-0 6,
Perry 1 0-0 3, Bowers 1 0-0 3, Fry 0 0-0 0. TEAM 18 5-7 49. 3-point
FG 8 (Cook 4, Ebelherr 2, Perry, Bowers).
Romine 22, Diedrich 18, Rettig 13, T.Kenney 5, J. Kenney 4. TEAM 21
18-23 62. 3-point FG 2 (rettig, J.Kenney).
LCHS 14-9-8-18 49
M-SEYMOUR 10-11-14-27 62