Those thoughts did not last long.
The Lincoln Railers used a 29-7
run throughout the early stages of the first half to get a
comfortable margin, one that was not extended until the fourth
quarter, en route to a 78-48 win over the Senators on Saturday
night. The win improves the Lincoln record to 22-2 as the No. 3 team
in the state of Illinois stays close on the heels of Springfield
Lanphier and moves their conference mark to 11-1. The Railers set a
season high in scoring behind four players in double figures as well
as defense that has dominated all season long.
The game could not have gotten off to a better start for the
Railers as Springfield won the tip but senior Joey Olden stepped in
front before the ball hit the ground and sped downcourt for an
early layup. After Springfield got free throws from Obediah Church
and a 3 from Isaac Nelson, the Railers quickly turned the 5-2
deficit, thanks again to Olden. Olden took a steal in the backcourt
in for a layup and then scored again to put Lincoln in front, where
they would be for the rest of the night. With Olden scoring the
first six points, Tyler Horchem was the next to connect, converting
on two straight 3-pointers to take a 12-5 lead.
After a basket from Church, Edward Bowlby hit the first of his
four 3-pointers on the night. Gavin Block ended the Lincoln scoring
in the first quarter with a three-point play to give the Railers a
19-7 lead going into the second quarter.
Lincoln's first score of the second quarter was a milestone
moment for Max Cook. When the senior found an open Bowlby from
behind the 3-point line, the assist from Cook elevated him on the
all-time list at Lincoln. His 327th career assist moved him into
third place all-time, passing Gregg Alexander. The playmaker now
only trails Dan Duff and Matt Schick on the career list.
After Springfield tried to stay close, Lincoln scored nine in a
row, including field goals from Cook and Block, along with another 3
from Bowlby and free throws from Payton Ebelherr. Things were
looking good with the home team up 31-12.
Unfortunately, what would become a habit on the night crept up on
"We were a little uncomfortable on the bench," coach Neil
Alexander said. "We'd got up by 18, they'd close back to 12, then
we'd go back up by 20, but then they would climb back. It took a
while for us to put them away."
Lincoln's 19-point lead quickly diminished to just 10 as the
Senators (6-17, 3-11) ran off nine in a row. When they needed a
score to stop the Springfield momentum, Lincoln turned to Cook, who
hit his second basket of the night. A free throw from Block sent the
Railers into halftime with a 34-21 lead.
Bowlby started an 8-2 run for the Railers to start the second
half, pushing the Lincoln lead to 19 at 42-23. Bowlby's 3, along
with another from Horchem, seemingly put the Senators away. But, as
mentioned before, the Senators were hanging tough and put together
an 11-3 run to close to within 45-34. The pendulum swung back to
Lincoln as the Cook brothers fueled a 9-0 run. Will Cook connected
for his only points of the night, a 3 from the right corner, with
Max Cook scoring after a steal by Will. Max's next basket was
followed by a basket from Adam Conrady to push the lead back to 20
Springfield would not go away as seven in a row pulled them to
within 13 at 54-41 in the early part of the fourth quarter. Finally,
the Lincoln defense took over and a 14-0 run put the game out of
reach. Block got the run started with five points and hit another
3-pointer after free throws from Max Cook. Olden jumped back in the
scoring column with two quick baskets, one off a steal by Ebelherr.
A Springfield score was followed by baskets by Max Cook and Olden.
The Olden basket allowed the Railers to set their highest scoring
night of the season, up 72-43, with a few minutes still left in the
After one player, Olden, scored the first six points of the
night, it was only fitting that another one scored the last six
points of the night. Senior Austin Krusz scored on jumpers and
floaters in the lane to match his career high, the third time he has
scored six. Ironically, the last time he scored six was one year ago
to the date: Feb. 8, 2013, against Rochester.
[to top of second column]
For the game, Lincoln forced 21 turnovers and scored 37
points off those Springfield miscues.
The Railer defense has been allowing a few more points than
earlier in the season, but at this point it is not a concern.
"We've been giving up a few more points, but we've been playing a
bit faster," coach Alexander said, "so we'll be giving up some
points, but with our scoring, we should be able to put some points
on the board."
Over the last three games, the Railers have been averaging almost
72 points a game. As a comparison, Lincoln scored a total of 81
points in the first two games combined.
Four of the five starters hit double figures, while the fifth
just missed. Block had another solid night with 19 points, five
rebounds, five assists and seven steals. Olden finished with 13
points, while Bowlby added 12. Max Cook also scored 12, along with
having six assists and four rebounds. Horchem finished with nine
points and has been contributing more as of late, averaging almost
seven a game over the past seven games. Krusz finished with six
points, Will Cook scored three, and Conrady and Ebelherr each
chipped in with two.
Now, a busy week for the Railers, one that could have lasting
effects well past the final buzzer sounding. Friday, the Railers are
at Rochester and back home the next night in nonconference action
against Oswego. The biggest game of the week starts the action as
Lincoln will travel to Chatham in a rescheduled game to take on
Glenwood on Tuesday night.
"It's a scary game for us," Alexander said. "We know it will be a
hostile environment in light of what happened, but we've got a bunch
of seniors, and they know what they have to do to push through and
just worry about the game."
The Tuesday game is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. It will be a
busy basketball night for Lincoln fans as, along with the game at
Glenwood, West Lincoln-Broadwell and Chester-East Lincoln will be
playing each other for an eighth-grade regional title. If you're not
going to be at that game, a large turnout by Railer Nation in
Chatham would be appreciated and will definitely be needed.
Block 7-12 3-4 19, Olden 6-9 1-2 13, M.Cook 5-9 2-2 12, Bowlby
4-8 0-0 12, Horchem 3-5 0-0 9, Krusz 3-4 0-0 6, W.Cook 1-1 0-0 3,
Ebelherr 0-1 2-2 2, Conrady 1-2 0-0 2, Dunovsky 0-0 0-0 0, Perry 0-1
0-0 0, Hopp 0-0 0-0 0, Fry 0-0 0-0 0, Kirby 0-1 0-0 0, Aeilts 0-0
0-0 0. Team 30-53 8-10 78. 3-point field goals 10-26 (Bowlby 4-7,
Horchem 3-5, Block 2-5, W.Cook 1-1, Kirby 0-1, Perry 0-1, M.Cook
0-3, Olden 0-3).
Kincaid 14, Church 14, Nelson 9, Small 4, Day 3, Minder 2,
Watters 1, Stratton 1. Team 16-41 11-13 48. 3-point field goals 5-19
(Nelson 3, Kincaid, Day).
Springfield 7-14-18-9 48
[By JEFF BENJAMIN]
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