Defense leads Lincoln to first Apollo win
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[December 02, 2017]
It has been a few years since the Lincoln Railers took on
Taylorville with an asterisk on the schedule indicating a conference
game. During their battles in the CS8, the Railers had the
Tornadoes’ number on most occasions. Even though the conference
banners and the logo on the floor are different, the scoreboard
showed a result that seemed quite familiar.
Led by the offense of senior Isaiah Bowers and a much improved
Railer defense, Lincoln notched their first win in the Apollo
Conference with a dominating 56-21 win over the visiting Tornadoes.
The win evens the Lincoln conference mark at 1-1 with an overall
record of 4-2. Sometimes the stats of a game can be a bit misleading
but Friday night’s tallies told the story.
Simply put, the Railers had Taylorville’s number in just about every
way. Let’s start with Bowers outscoring Taylorville 25-21. The
senior reached double figures in the first quarter as the Railers
jumped out to a 12-4 advantage. The Tornadoes made 5 of 19 from the
floor, including just one, yes, just one shot from inside the
three-point line on their way to scoring just seven points in the
second half. By himself, Bowers shot 24 times.
The opportunities for the Tornadoes were limited, something that can
happen when you are guilty of 25 turnovers. Coming into the game,
Taylorville was scoring 66 points a game with lots of scoring from
the outside. The Railer defense stepped up to the challenge, holding
them to one-third of their norm.
“We did a good job of covering their shooters. When they get
comfortable, they are going to be a dangerous team,” Lincoln coach
Neil Alexander said. “But, our point guards are the key to our
defense and I thought Titus (Cannon) and Tate (Sloan) did a good
job. Tate played a great defensive game with his hands and feet.”
From the beginning, the Railers took control putting the first six
points on the scoreboard. Bowers scored on a back door pass from
Cannon and then a shot off the glass after a steal. Sloan’s dump
down pass to Colton Holliday gave the lefty his two for the night.
Taylorville didn’t get on the board until the 3:23 mark of the first
on a free throw from Justin Wright. The Railers went old school for
their next eight points as Bowers and Grunder took over from 15
feet. It may not be the downtown three point shooting of Lincoln
teams past, but it count just the same.
“We’ve got a good mid-range game, especially with Ben and Isaiah.
Anymore, all you see is someone driving hard to the basket or
shooting from 22 feet away,” Alexander said. “It’s a lost art, it’s
something we haven’t had in a while but there are points out there
to be had.”
Up 14-7, the Railers saw the only spurt of the game from Taylorville
as they went on a 9-3 run on two threes from Jack Livingston and
three free throws from Jordan Moats after being fouled on a three.
After the Tornadoes drew within four, Lincoln kicked in an extra
gear. Isaac Dewberry continued his strong play of the bench with a
three pointer while Grunder converted a conventional three point
play after a drive in the lane. The Railers finished the first half
scoring on a three from Cannon as Lincoln claimed a 27-14 lead at
[to top of second column]
The second half was more of the same and then some. After a steal by
Bowers, Sloan hit a three pointer before Bowers converted a steal
into points of his own on a layup. Down 32-14, Taylorville’s Moats
scored on a baseline drive, the only two of the game. The scoring
continued in bunches for Lincoln as Bowers hit a three after
fighting for an offensive rebound to keep the possession for
Lincoln. Cannon showed aggressiveness, getting to the lane and
drawing the foul. His three point play pushed the Lincoln advantage
to 38-16. Bowers, who came in averaging 16 a game, scored the
quarter’s final points on another 15-footer and a layup after a
nifty spin move.
Lincoln carried a 42-19 margin into the fourth as Taylorville seemed
completely out of sync on offense. Jermaine Hamlin, who came off the
bench for the first time this season, played solid minutes,
especially on defense, and started the fourth quarter scoring with a
lay in off the glass. Grunder hit a three to stretch the lead to
47-19. Bowers ended his night in the same fashion as he started it,
scoring on a back door play, this time on a pass from Sloan.
Hamlin hit three of five from the line while two Railers, Kaden
Froebe and Kameron Whiteman, scored their first varsity points as
Railers to reach the final of 56-21.
This game seemed more like the Railers of old, especially on
defense. I know a lot of folks enjoy the scoring, but I have always
been a fan of defense and some of the performance put forth by
Lincoln the past have been a joy to watch. If this Lincoln team can
continue this kind of effort, there will be some interesting nights
coming up for Railer opponents. “We can’t steal the ball on every
possession, but the defense can still battle and I thought that is
what we did well tonight, was battle,” Alexander said.
Bowers led the night with his 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 steals
with Grunder adding 8 points and three steals. Cannon chipped in
with six points, three assists, and three steals, while Hamlin added
five. Sloan added four assists and four steals to his three points
and Dewberry hit a three pointer while Holliday, Whiteman, and
Froebe each scored two.
There is no game on Saturday, but the Railers will be preparing for
their first game on the road, a trip to Mattoon on Tuesday night.
Game time is set for 7:30pm with the sophomores getting things
started at 6. The sophomores got Friday night started on the right
note with a 61-46 victory. Whiteman led the way with 19 points while
Will Ewald added 16.
Bowers 11 1-4 25, Grunder 3 1-1 8, Cannon 2 1-1 6, Hamlin 1 3-5 5,
Sloan 1 0-0 3, Dewberry 1 0-0 3, Holliday 1 0-0 2, Whiteman 1 0-0 2,
Froebe 1 0-0 2, Ewald 0 0-0 0, Pozsgai 0 0-0 0. TEAM 22 6-11 56. 3pt
FG 6 (Bowers 2, Cannon, Sloan, Grunder, Dewberry).
Moats 8, J. Livingston 6, Bergschneider 3, Ess 3, Wright 1. TEAM 5
7-10 21. 3pt FG 4 (Livingston 2, Bergschneider, Ess).
TAYLORVILLE 4-10-5-2 21
LCHS 12-15-15-14 56