Playing like the team that had won 30 games and climbed to
the top of the Class 3A poll, the Lincoln Railers advanced to the
Sweet 16 and Friday night's sectional final with a convincing
48-29 win over Glenwood. The win improves their record to 31-2 and
sets up a rematch with Champaign Central, the only team to walk into
Roy S. Anderson this season and knock off the Railers.
Facing the Titans for the third time this season, the Railers had
22- and 10-point wins under their belts against Chatham coach Todd
Blakeman's squad. Going into the contest, it is a given that the
Glenwood offensive game plan will revolve around Texas A&M recruit
Peyton Allen. For the Railers, they have proven throughout the
course of this season that any number of Lincoln players can be
"that guy" on any given night. Coach Blakeman decided to try to
confuse the Railers.
Starting the game against a Glenwood zone defense, the Railers
jumped out early as Gavin Block found an opening down the lane and
dished to a wide-open Edward Bowlby. The basket was the start of a
solid scoring night for the senior. Tyler Horchem drained the first
of Lincoln's nine 3s on the night from the left corner, and after
Joey Olden's layup went in after a steal, Blakeman had no choice but
to take a timeout after the Railers had jumped out to a quick 7-0
After the timeout, Glenwood tried to go with a box and one, with
Block being guarded man-to-man.
Out-of-the-ordinary defenses were part of the preparations for
"We actually worked on something like this," Lincoln coach Neil
Alexander said. "We didn't exactly plan for the box and one, but we
thought there was a good chance they would run a triangle and two.
There's a lot of things you can do with the box and one."
After Allen finally got the Titans (20-12) on the board, Horchem
answered with his second 3 of the night. Glenwood tried to hang
close, all on the shoulders of Allen, who scored all of the Titan
points in the first quarter. His 3 cut the lead in half at 10-5. Max
Cook, who played a fantastic game at the point guard spot, hit from
3-point range as Lincoln jumped back up by eight. Since Glenwood's
defense was set up to prevent Block from getting the ball in any
offensive set, the junior decided to take matters into his own hands
as his offensive rebound and putback of a Lincoln miss gave the
Railers a 10-point lead at 15-5.
Up 15-8 to start the second, the Railers went through the one
part of the game when it seemed Glenwood was finding their legs and
getting back into the game. A 5-0 run to start the quarter brought
the Titans to within just two, but it was as close as the
challengers would get the remainder of the evening. Block started
the spurt with a jumper off a dribble at the top of the key, and
Will Cook came through with his usual big 3-pointer. Bowlby ended
the 7-0 run on a layup off a nice no-look pass from the baseline by
Payton Ebelherr. As quickly as the margin had been cut to two,
Lincoln was now back up by nine at 22-13. Glenwood scored the half's
final points, and the Railers headed to halftime with a seven-point
lead, up 22-15.
The Titans played the Railers even on the scoreboard in the
second quarter, but that can still be viewed as a win, as Allen was
held scoreless in the quarter. Even though there was no shot he
wasn't willing to take, the Railer defense certainly kept tabs on
Allen, and the pressure took its toll on him on both ends of the
court. Throughout much of the game, Allen was found "guarding" a
Railer, but not within 10 or 12 feet, allowing him to rest as much
Ethan Hunt pulled Glenwood to within four as he hit his second 3
of the game, and Bowlby stretched it back to six after another nice
assist from Max Cook. After a Titan basket put the lead back to
four, Block's drive to the basket and Max Cook's layup after a steal
pushed the Lincoln lead to eight at 28-20. As much as Glenwood tried
to hang around, it was starting to become clear that this Lincoln
team had too much firepower, something their opponents for Friday
night saw firsthand, as the Maroons from Champaign Central were in
the stands for much of the game at Mattoon.
Horchem's 3 put Lincoln up 31-22, and after a Titan score, Max
Cook continued his solid night with another 3, a shot that allowed
him to move into 10th place all-time for 3-pointers in school
history. As the Railers tried to run the clock down at the end of
the third quarter, Glenwood was able to come up with a steal, only
to run into some issues at half-court. As the ball came loose thanks
to the Railer defense, Block grabbed the ball and tossed one toward
the basket. His half-court heave bounced perfectly off the backboard
and into the basket as time expired, sending the Railer Nation in
attendance into a frenzy.
[to top of second column]
Honesty compels me to mention that those listening to our
broadcast "might" have noticed a little excitement from the
announcers. No apologies for that.
Block's 3 is one of those shots that, if you're the other team
trying to do anything to get back in the game, makes you think that
tonight may not be your night. His 3 turned what could have been the
Titans within 10, instead showing the Railers up 37-24.
The 3s kept on falling, and a huge cheer went up with Lincoln's
next make as Bowlby hit his first 3 since Moline. Bowlby may have
been struggling from the outside but has certainly made his presence
known in other ways. However, it sure is nice to see him back in the
groove from outside as he hit another from long range to put Lincoln
up 44-24. Bowlby then decided to go old school for the 3-point play
as he converted the free throw after a make on a drive to the hoop,
again after a nice look from Ebelherr. A free throw from Olden ended
the Lincoln scoring, and a pair of baskets from Glenwood only
changed the score, not the outcome, as the Railers stood tall with
the 48-29 victory.
The experts, of which I am not one, will tell you defense wins
championships. Coach Alexander was pleased with his on Wednesday
"I thought our defense played well. Rebounding, I don't remember
any times where they got more than one shot," Alexander said. "We
will have our hands full on Friday night. We'll have to eat our
Wheaties between now and then. But, we survived to advance, and this
time of year, that's all you can ask for."
Good balance in scoring from the starters as Bowlby with 15 was
the only Railer in double figures, while Max Cook, Horchem and Block
all finished with nine. Olden and Ebelherr each added three.
Now, their attention can turn to the sectional final on Friday
night against Champaign Central. When the Railers lost to them in
mid-January, Lincoln was one day removed from falling to Lanphier.
Not an excuse for their mental state, just a fact. After that game,
coach Alexander alluded to the possibility that even if the Railers
had beaten Lanphier, there was still the chance of a letdown.
The ticket information for Friday night was given by the PA
announcer at Mattoon. According to the announcement, game time is
set for 7 p.m. and tickets will be on sale Thursday at the school
office from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and again from 6:30 to 7:30 Thursday
night. Tickets are $5 and are general admission. Any questions or
concerns regarding the tickets can be addressed to Pat Zurkammer at
732-4131, ext. 226, or by email at
I guess if you're going to be Sweet, why not be Elite?
Bowlby 6-10 1-1 15, M.Cook 3-6 1-2 9, Block 4-6 0-2 9, Horchem
3-5 0-0 9, Olden 1-1 1-2 3, W.Cook 1-3 0-0 3, Ebelherr 0-1 0-0 0,
Krusz 0-0 0-0 0, Conrady 0-2 0-0 0, Perry 0-0 0-0 0, Dunovsky 0-0
0-0 0. Team 18-34 3-7 48. 3-point field goals 9-21 (Horchem 3-5,
M.Cook 2-5, Bowlby 2-6, Block 1-2, W.Cook 1-3)
Allen 12, Hunt 6, Anderson 4, Matchuny 3, Harper 2, Mizera 2.
Team 12-34 0-1 29. 3-point field goals 5-19 (Allen 2, Hunt 2,
LCHS 15-7-15-11 48
Glenwood 8-7-9-5 29
[By JEFF BENJAMIN]
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