Unfortunately for the Lincoln Railers, March barely had time to get
mildly upset, let alone arrive at the madness.
Hoping to bounce back from two earlier losses to Springfield
Southeast this season, the Railers instead will be playing the role
of spectator on Friday night as the Spartans ended the Lincoln
season with a 43-35 victory at Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium. Southeast
will now move on to take on the surprising Panthers from Decatur
Eisenhower, a team with wins already over Taylorville and MacArthur.
On Wednesday night, the Railers were victims of their own accord.
Sloppy ball handling at times, ill-timed turnovers, lack of
defensive rebounding through stretches, and too many scoring
droughts in the game. All things that have plagued the Railers at
times this season, all coming back to haunt them in a win or go home
“When we needed to, we didn’t adjust,” Lincoln coach Neil Alexander
said after the game. “And then, in the second half, we just didn’t
The second half is where Southeast put their stamp on their 21st win
of the season. The Spartans’ ability to score in spurts was too much
for Lincoln to battle against. Lincoln enjoyed a 22-17 lead at the
half, only to see Southeast score five points within the half’s
first minute to tie the game at 22. After a drive and score by
Lincoln’s Aron Hopp, Southeast again tied the game at 24. The
visitors were able to grab their first lead of the night with 1:14
left in the third as Isaiah Walton hit two free throws for a 26-24
advantage. The game would go to the fourth quarter tied after KJ Fry
scored on a layup after faking a pass to the right corner as he
drove to the basket.
In the fourth, it only took 45 seconds for Southeast (21-6) to take
a four point lead and, by the time their run was over, they were up
34-26. Fry finally put Lincoln on the board with a 14-foot jump shot
but there was a sense in the gym that it may have been a little too
late. But, even if some in attendance thought that, you would not
find that as the pervasive thought on the Lincoln sideline. “I’m
really proud of the kids tonight,” Alexander said. “They played
hard. They would not quit.”
A basket from Isaiah Bowers brought the game back to six with a
minute to go. It would be up to the Spartans and their ability to
make critical free throws. In a game earlier this season, the
Spartans were a dismal 16-38 from the line. On Wednesday, with much
more at stake, they got the ball to the right players and came up
big at the line, going 15 of 20 for the game and 8 of 10 in the
fourth quarter. After Treyvan Williams made one to push the lead
back to 37-30, Fry hit what would turn out to be his final three of
his career to get Lincoln as close as they would get down the
stretch at 37-33.
With 40 and 30 seconds to go respectively, Williams went four for
four to push the lead back to 41-33. As for Lincoln, especially in
the second half, they had difficulty hanging on to the ball and when
they did, the shots just would not fall. The Southeast defense did
what Railer defenses have done for years, they made Lincoln feel
uncomfortable with the ball and that can doom any team.
Senior David Biggs, who Coach Alexander said “played big tonight,”
got an inside basket to fall with 23 seconds to go. He would have
the distinction of scoring Lincoln’s final points on the season. Two
more free throws sealed away the final of 43-35.
Early on, the Railers had Southeast on their heels. A three point
play from Ben Grunder and a three pointer from Bowers helped the
Railers jump out to a 8-2 lead. After Southeast had cut the game to
9-6, Fry scored five at the end of the quarter to help the Railers
to a 14-6 edge after the first eight minutes. The game may have
turned in the early stages of the second quarter. Just as the
Spartans had scored in bunches at the start of the third and fourth
quarters, it happened earlier in the night to start the second.
Down eight, Southeast’s Kobe Medley hit a three from the right
corner and then the left corner and after Mark Johnson made two free
throws, Southeast had stormed back to tie the game, connecting for
eight points in the quarter’s first 1:45. Lincoln then held fast,
going on their own 8-1 run with baskets from Biggs and Bowers, the
sophomore scoring on a wide open layup after an inbounds pass from
Bryson Kirby. After a Hopp free throw, it was Bowers again from long
range to put Lincoln up 22-15. A final basket from Southeast cut the
lead margin to just five at halftime.
[to top of second column]
Again, it was the scoring droughts that had hurt the Railers all
season. After scoring 14 points in the first quarter, Lincoln scored
only twelve over the second and third quarters combined. Once
Southeast was able to get those first eight points of the second
quarter, it gave them a chance to take a deep breath, relax, and
focus on the game at hand.
For their final game of the season, the Railers were led by Fry with
12 points, with Bowers adding 10. Hopp scored six, with Biggs
chipping in with four, and Grunder scoring three. For seniors Hopp,
Biggs, Fry, and Garrett Aeilts, it was their final time playing
basketball for the Railers and in front of Railer Nation.
“We’ve got four senior players that we will have to replace and that
will not be easy,” Alexander said. “They do so much so we have to
start working now, get a ball in their hands, and find out who is
goint ot do what. Thanksgiving will be here before you know it.”
So, another season in the books. I wonder how many folks would have
predicted 17 wins for a really inexperience team. With the exception
of Hopp, no one really had any playing time on the varsity level.
This bunch fought and scratched to a .500 record in conference while
finishing above water with the 17=15 mark. It will be tough to watch
the Railers next year without the seniors, but some younger players
got some much needed time on the floor so it will be interesting to
see how the 2016-2017 Railers shape up when the next campaign rolls
A special word of mention to the 38 student athletes from Lincoln
that were named to the Central State Eight Conference Academic
All-Conference team, including seven members of the boys’ basketball
squad. To qualify, you must have a 3.6 GPA or higher or be in the
top 30 percent of your class. Freshman are not eligible.
In Railer basketball, those named include Garrett Aeilts, Sam
Birnbaum, Titus Cannon, KJ Fry, Aron Hopp, Nolan Hullinger, and
Others named in the All-Conference, by team:.
GIRLS BASKETBALL – Lauren Block, Hannah Cameron, Julianne
Funk, Katie Hunsley, Jennifer Huynh, Megan Joseph, Emerie Wieber,
and Hallie Williams.
WRESTLING – Zach Lowe-Prather and Jacob McCray
CHEERLEADING – Haley Allen, Madelyn Allen, Allison Bone,
Ashlyn Boyer, Kaelin Butterfield, Joy Chi, Brooklyn Elsas, Madi Guy,
Sydney Johnson, Grace Konczyk, Emma O’Donoghue, Kiersten Prater, and
DANCE TEAM – Alexis Beard, Holly Davis, Abigail Everson,
Julia Huynh, Brianna Lanning, Lexi Lanning, Lanae Laubenstein, and
It has been a fun year, some ups, some downs, but never a dull
moment. Traveling from Collinsville to Joliet and points in between,
following the Railers and Railer Nation is something I look forward
to and enjoy. I want to thank everyone at Lincoln Daily News for
asking me to contribute articles again this season. I’m not sure if
you like them or not, but if you take time to read them, I certainly
I also want to thank Jim Ash at WLCN 96.3 for allowing me to call
every Railer game this season. Hard to believe this wraps up 15
seasons of doing Railer basketball. In both cases, I hope to be back
next season doing something I truly enjoy and that is helping you
keep tabs on your Lincoln Railers.
Thanks again for a great season and we will see you in November.
Fry 5 0-0 12, Bowers 4 0-0 10, Hopp 2 2-4 6, Biggs 2 0-0 4, Grunder
1 1-1 3, Aeilts 0 0-0 0, Kirby 0 0-0 0. TEAM 14 3-5 35. 3pt FG 4
(Fry 2, Bowers 2).
Williams 9, Walton 8, Hughes 7, Stapleton 6, Medley 6, Fairlee 4,
Johnson 3. TEAM 12 15-20 43. 3pt FG 4 (Stapleton 2, Medley 2).
LCHS 14-8-4-9 35
SOUTHEAST 6-11-9-17 43