Whatever the reason, the Railers played hard but without the
expected focus in Friday night's 55-41 conference win over
Springfield. The victory ups the Lincoln record to 13-0, 3-0 in the
CS8. The effort was better, but the execution left a lot to be
"Don't get me wrong, the kids played hard tonight. I was
pleased with that," Lincoln coach Neil Alexander said. "What we
weren't good with was the decision-making; quick shots, errant
passes, a lot of things."
After the dominance at Collinsville was followed by the
less-than-stellar effort last Saturday against Normal West, Railer
Nation was hoping for a return to the tournament form. However, for
the second game in a row, it felt as though the Railers did just
enough to come away with a 14-point win.
Now, you may say a 14-point win is not too bad. Maybe the
expectations are too much. Well, it's not the margin, it's the
"This is something we had issues with last year," Alexander said.
"We had trouble closing out games, and we worked on that this
summer. At Collinsville, that's how we want it; if you're up 20, get
to 30. We want that running clock. That's how to finish out games."
The start of the game gave hope the Railers would hit the gas and
go, as an 8-0 run put Lincoln up early. Springfield found it
difficult to even set up their offense, as time and again the
Lincoln defense, led by Joey Olden, kept tipping passes and forcing
turnovers. Three-pointers from Max Cook and Tyler Horchem sandwiched
around an Edward Bowlby lay-in of a Cook lob put Lincoln on top.
The Senators remained undaunted and took advantage of some sloppy ballhandling to run off seven in a row to cut the Railer lead to
one. The game of runs continued with Lincoln notching the next six,
including a 3 from Bowlby. Up 14-7, the Railers allowed five in a row to see their advantage
down to two. A perfectly executed backdoor play resulted in a Payton
Ebelherr layup to give Lincoln the 16-12 lead going to the second.
Going into the game, the Railers had averaged giving up about six
points in the first quarter, not allowing double-digit scoring in
the first 11 games. Over the last two, both Normal West and
Springfield have bested that plateau (14 for West and 12 on Friday
The defense held the Senators to only a single 3-point basket in
the second quarter. Unfortunately, the offense could not take full
advantage. Block got the scoring started on a three-point play after
a tough drive down the lane while getting fouled. Olden followed up
with a steal and layup, a basket where the Railers caught a break
when the officials let go what appeared to be a kick of the ball,
leading to Olden's score. After the Senator 3, Olden was fouled
across the head as he made a layup. After his free throw, Max Cook
ended the first-half scoring with his third basket of the night, and
the Railers led at the half 26-15.
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Lincoln seemed to take control of the game with a 7-0 run to start
the third. Lincoln went up 33-17 on a Max Cook layup, taking
advantage of the lack of effort on the part of Springfield's
6-foot-8 scoring leader Obediah Church. After Church missed 3-point
bank shots, his frustrations left him under his basket, upset at the
misses and lack of calls from the officials. His absence on the
defensive end left the lane wide open, and Cook schooled his
defender all the way to the rim. Just like the first half, if you
thought the Senators were going away, they were not, as a 5-0 run
pulled the game back to an 11-point margin.
The Railers were able to get baskets from Olden and Bowlby near
the end of the quarter, and Lincoln had stretched the lead to 12
heading to the fourth, 37-25.
After Springfield (4-10, 1-4) cut the lead to 10, the Railers got
a big 3 from Will Cook. The junior's 3 from the left corner put
Lincoln up 40-27. Lincoln seemingly put the game out of reach as
they went on a 12-2 run on the strength on two 3s from Bowlby and a
couple of drives to the basket by Max Cook. The senior point guard
used his veteran guile to get to the basket at will against his
defender, a freshman.
With the Railers up 52-30, the hope was that they would continue
to push the right buttons. However, over the last four minutes, the
team seemed to shift into cruise control. A string of 3s from long
range by Keon Day pulled the Senators as close as 11, but it would
not be enough on the rainy Friday night.
Lincoln placed two players in double figures, with Max Cook
scoring a season-high 15 points and Bowlby adding 13. Olden scored
nine along with playing tough pressure defense, while Block scored
seven and Horchem added six. Will Cook scored three while Ebelherr
chipped in with two.
Lincoln will try to put forth a closer-to-32-minute effort on
both ends of the court on Saturday night as Jacksonville visits Roy
S. Anderson Gymnasium. This is the game rescheduled from December
due to the weather. The varsity is set to start at 6:30, with the
sophomore game tipping at 5 p.m.
M.Cook 6-12 2-3 15, Bowlby 5-9 0-1 13, Olden 4-6 1-1 9, Block 2-7
3-5 7, Horchem 2-4 0-0 6, W.Cook 1-4 0-0 3, Ebelherr 1-2 0-0 2,
Krusz 0-1 0-0 0. Team 21-45 6-10 55. 3-point field goals 7-19 (Bowlby
3-7, Horchem 2-3, M.Cook 1-3, W.Cook 1-2, Block 0-2, Olden 0-1,
Nelson 17, Church 10, Day 9, Watters 3, Kincaid 2.
Springfield 12-3-10-16 41
[By JEFF BENJAMIN]
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