Railers winless streak reaches six

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[January 18, 2016]  by Jeff Benjamin

On December 29th, as part of the Collinsville Holiday Tournament, Lincoln and Decatur MacArthur battled in one of the semifinals. The teams combined for 96 points and, in the end, it was all the Generals as they pulled away for a 59-37 win to advance to the championship game. On Saturday night, the teams combined for one less point, but for a lot more drama as the game was not decided until the final seconds.

Unfortunately, for the Railers and their fans, the result was the same.

As senior Garrett Aeilts’ three point shot missed the mark in the closing seconds of the contest, Lincoln fell to their sixth straight loss, a 49-46 defeat at the hands of MacArthur. In comparison to Friday night’s game, a lot of things were better from the Railers. Even though the performance was better, it was not a win.

“I don’t want our kids feeling comfortable with the fact we played better or we came close,” Coach Neil Alexander said. “These are the type of games we have to find a way to win.”

In a game where the lead changed hands twelve times, was tied twice, and MacArthur had runs of 7-0 and 10-0, the Railers were alive until the final seconds when the attempt at tying the game did not go down. The loss drops the Lincoln record to 9-8 overall and 3-5 in conference action. After to falling to Glenwood on Friday night in a game that was low scoring with not much rhythm, a trip to MacArthur was certainly not the best way to try to end the winless streak, especially after the Generals had dominated the Railers just a couple weeks ago.

So, I’ll just skip the cliché about that’s why the game is played.

This was definitely a game the Railers could have, and in some respects should, have won. When all is said and done, the main reason this game ended up in the loss column was rebounding. The Generals may not have capitalized on every offensive board, but too many possessions saw MacArthur with more than one shot thanks to their ability on the glass.

“Rebounding comes down to who wants the ball more,” a frustrated Coach Alexander said. “We have to be willing to put a body on someone and go get the ball, not just box out and wait for someone else to go get it. You can’t rebound with your arms, you have to be willing to use your chest and your legs to get the ball. To be a good rebounder, you have to assume every shot is going to be missed. We work on this every day in practice. And we are going to keep working on it.”

The interview with Coach Alexander gave the sense that he felt rebounding was the difference. Another factor was the number of fouls called. In one of the most physical games of the season, not many fouls were called, at least against MacArthur. Only one foul was whistled in the first half against the home squad and a total of five for the game. That’s the same number accumulated by sophomore Isaiah Bowers, who fouled out late in the game. The Generals made 14 of their 18 free throws, while the Railers were perfect from the line, albeit in only three attempts.
During the streak, offense has been a problem, while not getting consistent performances from those this team needs. On Friday night, seniors Aron Hopp and KJ Fry combined for eight points. Saturday night, they returned to form and almost pulled out the win.

Hopp’ first basket of the night early in the second quarter put Lincoln up 7-6. MacArthur, whether it was crashing the boards or finding an opening behind the Railer defense for easy lay-ins, took a six point lead by going on a 7-0 run. Lincoln was able to draw closer as Bowers scored on a nice look from Aeilts and then passed it forward by finding an open Hopp to cut the deficit to two at 13-11. After a Decatur score, Hopp showed that Lincoln could score off the offensive glass as he grabbed a rebound and, without coming back down, tossed it in. The rest of the quarter see-sawed until Lincoln was down 19-15. A three from Aeilts pulled Lincoln to within one and, thanks to a turnover, Lincoln was able to get one final shot. With three seconds remaining, Fry knocked down the first of his four three pointers on the night to put Lincoln up 21-19.

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It didn’t take long for the Generals to tie the game as Keymonta Johnson, who scored 24 in the December game, grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on the putback. Fry continued his big night by faking a three, taking a couple dribbles, and pulled up and hit a 15-footer. Amir Brummett then gave MacArthur their only lead of the quarter when he hit a three to move Decatur back in front 24-23. Fry answered back with a three of his own to start an 8-2 run to put Lincoln up 31-26. By the end of the third, Lincoln had doubled their halftime lead at 33-29.

The fourth did not get off to a good start as Arman Brummett, who had not scored up to that point, hit a three to pull the Generals within one. Brummett scored 11 of MacArthur’s 20 points in the quarter. Hopp was able to show some strength by converting a conventional three point play to put the Railers back up by four at 36-32. But another run by the Generals was enough to put just enough space between the teams. Two three point plays bookended a 10-0 run which included McClain scoring on a fast break at the 5:02 mark to give the Generals a lead they would not give away.

Hopp, Fry, and Aeilts did what they could to keep Lincoln close. Two lay-ins by Hopp cut the deficit to three at 43-40, but MacArthur kept answering back. With 1:42 left, Fry hit his last three to bring the game back to three points at 46-43. With 20 seconds left, Arman Brummett split a pair of free throws, giving Lincoln hope. The Railers took advantage and did so quickly. It took just five seconds for Lincoln to charge the ball up court and find an open Aeilts on the right wing. When the three went through, the Railers had cut the margin to just one at 47-46.

As much as Lincoln tried to foul, the infraction was not called until 7.6 seconds were left. Again Brummett did his job from the line, making both. Lincoln’s final shot at sending the game into overtime made it to the hands of Aeilts, whose three missed and MacArthur had survived Lincoln.

As has been commonplace as of late, only four Railers scored. Hopp led the way with 17 while Fry finished with 16. Aeilts hit three threes for nine, while Bowers added four.

So, the next chance to end the streak comes on Tuesday when the Railers play host to Rochester on the third night of the Central State Eight tournament. Lincoln needed double overtime on December 11th to beat the Rockets in Rochester 48-40.


Hopp 7 3-3 17, Fry 6 0-0 16, Aeilts 3 0-0 9, Bowers 2 0-0 4, Biggs, 0 0-0 0, Kirby 0 0-0 0, O’Donoghue 0 0-0 0. TEAM 18 3-3 46. 3pt FG 7 (Fry 4, Aeilts 3).


Johnson 19, Ar.Brummett 11, Am.Brummett 8, McClain 5, Cook 4, K.Brummett 2. TEAM 16 14-18 49. 3pt FG 3 (Ar.Brummett 2, Am.Brummett).

LCHS 5-16-12-13 46
MACARTHUR 6-13-10-20 49

[Jeff Benjamin]

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