Sunday, November 30, 2014
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Railers "out-toughed" by Mahomet Bulldogs

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[November 30, 2014]  LINCOLN —  I would think when most people hear the term “bulldog,” a lot of images immediately jump to mind, both physical characteristics and manner of behavior. Tough, hard-nosed, grab hold and not let go mentality with strength and toughness. On Wednesday night at Roy S. Anderson gymnasium, the Lincoln Railers and the Railer Nation discovered just how appropriately named the Mahomet-Seymour squad was during their 62-49 win over the Railers on the second night of the Eaton Electrical Round Robin Tournament.

In a game Lincoln led much of the first half and the early stages of the second, the Bulldogs took the lead midway through the third quarter and never let go. As many times as the Railers fought back to get close, Mahomet never let go of the lead, eventually pulling away at the free throw line for the 13 point win. After the game, Lincoln coach Neil Alexander summed up the contest.

“We got out-toughed tonight.”

In a contest that was much more physical than the opener two nights prior, even the early lead from the Railers never felt comfortable as the largest margin Lincoln could gain in the first half was six points. On each occasion, the Bulldogs fought back, once to tie and another taking the lead. It was in the second half when the visitors got the lead and ran with it. Using a 14-3 run to end the third quarter, the Bulldogs (2-0) only allowed Lincoln to get as close as three at 42-39, but used a stretch of 14-5 to close out the game.

“We didn’t play tonight with the energy we did Monday night,” Alexander said. “I told them that I know we are not going to win every game, and I’m OK with that. But, what is not OK is not bringing effort and we have to do that every night. “

A key for Mahomet’s defense was their ability to frustrate the Lincoln shooters, especially Gavin Block. The senior, who had an impressive 27 point night in the opener, was held to just 12 points, of that only two points came in the first and fourth quarters combined. The missed shots from the Railers (1-1) too many times led to easy run out baskets for the Bulldogs. Coach Alexander was also disappointed with the reaction of the players to the misses. “We let our shooting dictate our energy,” Alexander said. “On misses, we were looking for calls and not getting back.” The Hall of Fame coach hinted that the topic had been “discussed” after the game.

Let’s not take all the credit from Mahomet-Seymour. The Bulldogs were led by UTEP-signee Christian Romine with 22 points. At 6’10”, Romine presented numerous problems for the Railers, problems this team knows awaits them when facing a team featuring height down low. Romine scored ten of his game-high tally in the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs were pulling away.

The night started off looking good as senior Payton Ebelherr scored the first eight Lincoln points of the game as the Railers took an early 8-2. Using a solid mid-range game, Romine and Jack Rettig brought the Bulldogs back to even at 8. Freshman Isaiah Bowers continued the good start to his varsity career by draining a three to put Lincoln up 11-8. After another Mahomet score, Will Cook scored the first three of his team high 15 points. Cook put Lincoln up 14-10 and was open from three point range thanks to a solid screen set by Block, however, Mahomet’s Rettig bowled through the screen knocking Block to the ground where he was holding the back of his head. It would not be the first time the senior would go to the court hard.

An early basket from Aron Hopp put Lincoln’s lead back to six. Again, Mahomet showed their toughness by scoring seven in a row to take a 17-16 lead. A free throw from Block tied the game at 17 and after falling behind again, Hopp knotted the game at 19. At the 2:40 mark, Block tried to take over with a drive to the basket, followed by a steal and layup to push the advantage to four at 23-19. As the second quarter was winding down, it was Block again going to the ground hard under the basket. If you’re like most of Railer Nation, there is a collective sigh of relief when number 22 gets back up.

Just like the fast start in the first half, a three pointer by Cook and basket from Block put Lincoln up 28-21. Those would be the only two field goals the Railers would make in the quarter. The strange thing about the next part of the game was Lincoln held the lead but every time the Bulldogs would score, Lincoln would come down, not running through the offense as usual and take quick shots. The rebounding prowess of Mahomet-Seymour led to a number of runouts that found the Railers trailing the play watching the Bulldogs begin their second half run.

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By the time Coach Alexander called timeout at the 2:51 mark, Lincoln’s 28-21 lead had turned to a 33-29 deficit. A pair of free throws from Block brought Lincoln within two, but two more scores pushed the game to 37-31.

With the score 40-33, Lincoln began their last best effort to climb back into the game. Two more three pointers from Cook sandwiched around a Mahomet score, closed the gap to three at 42-39. However, the senior leadership of Mahomet combined with the relative inexperience of the Railers was too much for Lincoln to overcome. The Bulldogs never allowed Lincoln to put together back-to-back scores, keeping them at arm’s length the remainder of the night.

After the lead grew to 46-39, it was Cook again whose drive at 3:32 resulted in a three-point play that would bring the Railers as close as they would be the rest of the way at 46-42. A 7-2 run put Mahomet up 53-44 when Jordan Perry hit a three. On Monday night, the Bulldogs finished 28 of 33 from the free throw line and Wednesday night, the charity stripe is where the Mahomet squad cemented away the win. A 9-2 run at the end brought the final score to 62-49.

So, we are two games in. There is much more of the season to go and now we wonder: What is the identity of this Railer team? Are they closer to the hot shooting, smothering defense from game one or the out-efforted squad that could not close the game out against Mahomet-Seymour? The rest of the week will give us a good glimpse with three games over a two day period on Friday and Saturday. I certainly don’t expect ten threes in a half like Monday, but I feel comfortable in saying the effort will return. It must because it will have to for the team to be successful and there is something about putting on that Railer uniform that screams hustle and effort. On the rare night it is not there, it seems noticeable as the exception not the rule. The effort will return and so will the wins.

There were three players in double figures with Cook tying his career high with 15, Block adding 12, and Ebelherr also matching his best with ten points. Hopp added six, with Perry and Bowers each connecting on a three-pointer.

Lincoln will be back in action on Friday night at 8:00 as they take on Champaign Centennial, a team Coach Alexander says may be right up near the top with Mahomet-Seymour in this year’s tournament.


Cook 5 1-1 15, Block 4 4-6 12, Ebelherr 4 0-0 10, Hopp 3 0-0 6, Perry 1 0-0 3, Bowers 1 0-0 3, Fry 0 0-0 0. TEAM 18 5-7 49. 3-point FG 8 (Cook 4, Ebelherr 2, Perry, Bowers).


Romine 22, Diedrich 18, Rettig 13, T.Kenney 5, J. Kenney 4. TEAM 21 18-23 62. 3-point FG 2 (rettig, J.Kenney).

LCHS 14-9-8-18 49
M-SEYMOUR 10-11-14-27 62

[Jeff Benjamin]



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