After struggling to handle Normal West when the Collinsville holiday
tournament title was fresh in their rearview mirror, the Railers
wanted to capitalize on their dominant play in Jacksonville by
showing the home folks what the fuss was all about. Led by a
double-double, 25 points and 11 rebounds, from junior Gavin Block,
Lincoln did just that, knocking off SHG 67-47. The 20-point win
allowed the Railers to reach 20 victories on the season, the 31st
time that has happened in Railer history.
SHG played a very
physical game, so it was not an easy contest, and even though the
margin at the end seemed to indicate a comfortable win, Lincoln had
to play near a top level to get the victory.
One of the components of a team that is on pace to set the school
record for defensive average is quickly converting turnovers into
points. Lincoln started the game on a 5-0 run that was thanks to
mistakes from SHG and the shooting of Tyler Horchem. The senior's 3
got the scoring started, and another turnover saw Horchem step
inside the 3-point line for a rare 2-pointer. Horchem was fouled
driving to the basket and split a pair of free throws, giving
Lincoln a 6-0 lead. SHG was able to get on the board on a basket
from Nate Lowis, who scored eight of SHG's 11 first-quarter points,
all from about 2 feet away.
A layup and free throw by Max Cook got Lincoln back up by seven.
As well as Cook played running the offense, it seemed hard to
believe how quietly he scored his 14 points on the night. SHG was
able to hang in on the play of Lowis, and while they were down 9-7,
it felt as though the Cyclones (11-7, 5-5) were catching a break as
Joey Olden went to the bench with two fouls at the 4:13 mark of the
first quarter. They were unable to tie or take the lead on the next
possession, allowing the Railers to go on an 8-0 run to grab a
10-point lead. A 3-pointer from Block after a one-dribble pull-up
going to his left started the run, and a 3 from the improving Will
Cook put SHG down double digits.
After SHG scored on back-to-back possessions, it was Block again
with a conventional three-point play to send the Railers up 20-11
after the first quarter. On their next two baskets the Railers
continued to show the expected hustle. A tip-in from Max Cook on an
offensive rebound was the result of Block's continued efforts on the
boards. Block missed his first shot, then followed with two more
tries on putbacks before Cook's score. After a missed shot by SHG,
the Railers found Horchem all alone downcourt for the layup and a
24-13 advantage. After SHG connected on one of their six 3s on the
night, Lincoln (20-2, 9-1) scored another eight in a row, again led
by six more by Block, who finished the first half with 17 points.
To say that the Railers were balanced in their first-half scoring
might be an understatement. Up 37-24 at the break, Lincoln scored 12
points on 2-point baskets, 12 on 3-pointers and 13 more from the
free-throw line. There has always been the question of "Who do you
guard?" on this team, and if they can score like this, you might
want to add "Where do you guard them?"
The back-and-forth continued early in the first few minutes of
the third quarter. Block started the scoring with another 3, and his
shot was answered by Sean McDonald. Each time SHG scored, Lincoln
would answer back. Finally, up 42-30, the Railers put together the
run that took most of the wind out of the SHG sails.
Lincoln amassed a 16-0 run to put the home team up 58-30. Block
and Max Cook started the scoring, and then Edward Bowlby hit his
first two shots on the night, both 3s. Bowlby joined Olden on the
bench in the first quarter with foul trouble, but for most of the
game, Bowlby was the force Lincoln needed down low, adding five
[to top of second column]
"I thought he played real well down low," head coach Neil
Alexander said. "That's the kind of effort we are going to need, and
I thought he really did the job."
Another 3 from Block and two free throws from Bowlby ended the
run, prompting SHG coach Blake Lucas to bring his starters to the
bench. They were met by point guard Gabe Green, who did not play
during the second half after picking up his fourth foul late in the
first half. The subs on the floor for the Cyclones did have some
want-to, scoring 11 in a row to close within 58-41.
"I didn't like the way we started the fourth quarter; we were
flat," Alexander said. "We can't have that happen."
The Railers finally put things away after Olden saved a rebound
from going out of bounds and hit a cutting Max Cook, who completed
another three-point play. Will Cook hit a 3-pointer to push the lead
back to 24. Again the Cyclones were able to score near the end, but
it was not enough as the Railers picked up the 20-point win.
Block and Max Cook led the way with 25 and 14 points. Cook also
led the team with seven assists and came away with four steals,
matching team high with Block. Horchem had a solid night with nine
points, with Bowlby and Will Cook adding eight each. Austin Krusz
hit the night's last jumper for Lincoln for his two points, and
Olden chipped in with a free throw. The Railers found good
production at the free-throw line, hitting on 18 of the 22 attempts.
The night did not start off well as the sophomores fell 54-44.
The Railers' next game is scheduled for Saturday night at 6:30
down at Southeast. As of this writing, the game is still on with
impending winter weather affecting the area once again. The hope is,
whatever the weather may bring, that the game can go on as
scheduled, as the opportunities to reschedule are slowly
Other Friday night games in the conference: Lanphier 65, Glenwood
45; Southeast 46, Rochester 37; and Springfield 68, Taylorville 57.
Block 7 7-8 25, M.Cook 5 4-4 14, Horchem 3 2-4 9, Bowlby 2 2-2 8,
W.Cook 2 2-2 8, Krusz 1 0-0 2, Olden 0 1-2 1, Conrady 0 0-0 0,
Ebelherr 0 0-0 0, Perry 0 0-0 0, Dunovsky 0 0-0 0, Hopp 0 0-0 0.
Team 20 18-22 67. 3-point field goals 9 (Block 4, Bowlby 2, W.Cook
McDonald 11, Lowis 10, Bloink 9, Zeigler 5, Aiello 3, Zanger 3,
Sestak 3, Mandeville 3. Team 18 5-9 47. 3-point field goals 6
(McDonald 3, Mandeville, Zanger, Sestak).
LCHS 20-17-21-9 67
SHG 11-13-8-15 47
[By JEFF BENJAMIN]
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