In sports, there is just something about two teams that are viewed
as being at the top of their respective sports facing off against
each other to see who, at that time, has the upper hand.
night, another chapter will be added to that story.
When the game tips Friday night in Lober-Nika Gymnasium at
Springfield Lanphier, the top two teams in Class 3A will square off.
On the line, both Lincoln (14-0) and Lanphier (15-0) enter the game
undefeated overall and in conference. The winner will stay perfect
and have an advantage in the Central State Eight race. A Lincoln win
would also allow head coach Neil Alexander to reach 700 career wins.
Alexander reached 600 wins four years ago, also against Lanphier.
No matter what happens, it will also add another chapter to the
rivalry between the Railers and the Lions.
Most Railer fans will remember the 1996 matchup in sectional
play, a three-overtime loss in which Lincoln connected for a still
school-record 18 3-pointers. However, what fans remember most about
the game was a shot that did not count, when my WLCN broadcast
partner Josh Komnick hit a shot that was ruled to have come after
the buzzer. Eighteen years later and folks still debate that call
that ended what some call "the greatest high school game they have
More recently, any discussion regarding Lanphier has revolved
around Larry Austin Jr. The Tennessee-bound senior has increased his
season scoring to over 24 points a contest. However, his
performances against the Railers have not always been high-scoring.
In six career games against the Railer defense, Austin has scored 53
points (8.8 ppg). He has been held to single-digit scoring over the
past three games.
On the other side of that, in Austin's first game in the series,
back in 2011, he watched Lincoln's Jordan Nelson drop a
school-record 48 points in a win against the Lions. Later that
season, in a game that was a bit closer, Brant Coyne hit a 3-pointer
from the corner to send Lincoln to a season sweep with a 66-63 win.
The next season belonged to Lanphier. On an early February night,
Lincoln took then-No. 1 Lanphier to the wire, falling 39-36.
Then, there was last year's visit to Lober-Nika. In one of
the most impressive defensive performances Railer Nation has
seen, Lincoln held Austin and his teammates to seven —
yes, just seven —
points in the second half, using a 29-3 run at one point to come
away with a 48-39 victory to help preserve their part of the
claim to the conference title.
[to top of second column]
So, what will this season's first matchup provide? If the game
lives up to the hype, we should be in for quite a show. The question
is how many people will get to see that show.
According to published reports, the doors to Lober-Nika Gymnasium
will open at 4:45 p.m. for ticket sales. There are not expected to
be any advance sales, and you will only be permitted to buy the
number of tickets needed for the group you are with. The sophomore
game will start at 6, with the varsity scheduled at about 7:30. If
you are planning on going, plan on getting there early. If you do
not plan on going or arrive and are unable to get in, you can always
catch the game on WLCN-FM 96.3 or
Other items of interest for the game:
(Category ranks are conference ranks.)
2: Austin, Lanphier,
3: Bishop, Lanphier,
5: Block, LCHS,
6: Bowlby, LCHS,
19: M. Cook, LCHS,
26: Olden, LCHS, 7.1
2: Olden, LCHS,
3: Austin, Lanphier,
4: Bowlby, LCHS,
14: M. Cook, LCHS,
16: Wallace, Lanphier, .466
3-point field goals
1: Bishop, Lanphier,
3: Bowlby, LCHS, 30
7: Block, LCHS, 22
10: M. Cook, LCHS,
14: Horchem, LCHS,
16: Olden, LCHS, 14
[By JEFF BENJAMIN]
Click here to respond to this
Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles