Railer win streak reaches four as Bowers reaches 1000

Send a link to a friend  Share

[December 09, 2017]  by Jeff Benjamin

The strong play of the Lincoln Railers in Apollo Conference action continued on Friday night with a 20 point win over the Flaming Hearts from Effingham. Lincoln’s 63-43 victory over the visitors was highlighted by senior Isaiah Bowers eclipsing the 1,000 point mark for his career.

On the evening, Bowers scored 27 points and grabbed six rebounds as he moved into 20th place all-time on the Railer scoring list. A nice accomplishment that few have reached but not the most important number to the four-year player. “The important this is adding a number to the win column,” Bowers said after the game. “It doesn’t matter who is taking the shots, whether it’s Titus (Cannon), Ben (Grunder), or now Drew (Bacon). As long as we get the win.”

Over the last three games in conference play, the Railers have outscored their opponents 181-97, moving to 3-1 in the conference. Friday night was also a welcome back to senior Drew Bacon who was out for the first seven games of the season. As if on cue, Bacon may have two of the game’s biggest plays. Bacon drilled his first points of the season by connecting on a three-pointer from the top of the key to end the first quarter, giving Lincoln a 19-9 advantage.

More importantly, his presence was felt on the defensive end. After Lincoln had built a 38-20 lead in the third quarter, the Railer defense hit a bump in the road allowing Effingham (4-3, 1-1) to climb back into the game. A 12-2 run from the Hearts brought them within eight and, after a Lincoln turnover, a chance to cut into the lead even more. A drive to the basket from Ryan Sandifer was thwarted when Bacon stepped in the lane drawing a charge and forcing the turnover. After that play, the Railers closed the game on a 23-11 run.

“The play by Drew was a huge momentum stopper. I think it was only the second charge of the year we have taken,” Coach Neil Alexander said after the game. “That is exactly the kind of play we need and expect from Drew.”

As has been the case as of late, it was the Lincoln defense that set the tone early, forcing 11 first half turnovers while holding Effingham to single-digit scoring in each of the first two quarters. During the four-game winning streak, Lincoln has had quicker hands, moved together as unit much better, and forced teams to be very uncomfortable in what they want to do. They were put to the test though by Effingham’s Landon Wolfe, who scored a team-high 26 points. “He is a good player, good scorer, and can find his way to the basket,” Alexander said. “He’s good but still scored too many easy baskets. We have to communicate, talk more on defense. That is something we will have to work on, talking to each other.”

The Railers jumped out to an early 7-2 lead thanks to a layup in the lane from Titus Cannon, who then assisted Bowers on a back door layup. Bowers hit the first of his two three pointers to move the lead to five. Effingham did not just fade away as their own 7-2 run tied the game at nine. That’s when Lincoln exploded for a 21-4 stretch in the first half. A three from Ben Grunder gave the Lincoln the lead back for good, while Bowers remained active by scoring on an offensive rebound and tipping in a missed layup. Bacon’s three ended the quarter with Lincoln on top by ten and feeling pretty good after the first eight minutes.

A steal by Bowers led to another basket from Cannon, who reached double figures on the evening with 12 points. A basket from Colton Holliday left the Hearts down 14 and it seemed the rout was on. Wolfe, however, would not let his team get run out of the gym as he scored the game’s next four points. Grunder stopped the quick outburst with a drive before Jermaine Hamlin brought the crowd to its feet. Another Grunder drive resulted in the defense collapsing on him. Instead of forcing a shot, Grunder dropped the pass off to Hamlin who rose up for a two-hand dunk while getting fouled.

Not only did the play energize the fans, it is also seemed to energize Hamlin, who seemed more of a presence on defense. After a steal, Hamlin ran the floor and was rewarded with a pass which he converted to a layup and a 30-13 lead for Lincoln. Wolfe again, in fact all six points for his squad in the second, before Bowers’ 15-footer ended the first half scoring at 32-15.

 [to top of second column]

In a case of déjà vu, the second half started the way the first did with Cannon finding no resistance as he drove the lane and scored on a layup. Even with nice leads at halftime, the Railers have shown a tendency to let opponents back in. “We have to find a way to take those 15 point leads and put teams away,” Alexander noted. “That and our free throw shooting is going to cause us to lose a game down the road.”

With Lincoln up 38-20, Effingham turned up the pressure while relying on Wolfe and Mason Hull to cut ten points off the Railer lead. The 12-2 run feature Wolfe driving to the basket with ease while Hull hit a pair of three pointers. After drawing the charge, Bacon and the Railers seemed to take a breath and refocus on the task at hand. The Railers scored the last seven points of the quarter to go back up by 15, the last three being the milestone maker.

With about 50 seconds left in the quarter, Bowers found himself on the right side. As his three went in, he reached the 1,000 point mark for his career. If his scoring continues in this manner, 76 points over the last three games, he will quickly rise up the list of Lincoln scorers.

Bowers got some help on his next score as Isaac Dewberry kept the ball alive twice on the same possession before it found its way to Bowers for the basket. Up 52-38, the Railers finally put together a run that put Effingham away with most of it directly a result of the defense taking over. Cannon forced a turnover and scored on the ensuing layup. After a 14-footer from Bowers along with him splitting a pair of free throws, Lincoln led 57-41. With Effingham getting the last basket, Lincoln scored six points in about 20 seconds. Bowers converted another back door before Tate Sloan and Cannon each forced turnovers at the timeline and scored layups off the steals.

All in all, a good win. Still some areas that need work, but you don’t want to be playing your best basketball now. The next point of interest for the Railers is now coming up Sunday when it is expected the seeds for the Collinsville Holiday Classic will be released. At least one representative from Collinsville was at the game Friday night. The question is will the 6-2 record, especially the play over the last four games, be enough for the Railers to grab one of the top four seeds. Stay in touch with Lincoln Daily News for updates regarding the seeds and brackets.

The Railers were led by the duo of Bowers (27) and Cannon (12). Hamlin had a strong night with seven while Grunder and Bacon each added five. Sloan chipped in with four with Holliday scoring three.

Lincoln now has a week to prepare for their next matchup, an Apollo Conference battle at Mt. Zion. Game time is set for 7:30pm with the sophomores tipping at 6pm. The sophomores continued their strong play with a 53-28 win.


Bowers 12 1-2 27, Cannon 5 2-2 12, Hamlin 3 1-3 7, Grunder 2 0-1 5, Bacon 2 0-0 5, Sloan 2 0-0 4, Holliday 1 1-2 3, Dewberry 0 0-0 0. TEAM 27 5-10 63. 3pt FG 4 (Bowers 2, Grunder, Bacon).


Wolfe 26, Hull 9, Sandifer 4, Smith 4. TEAM 16 7-11 43. 3pt FG 4 (Hull 3, Wolfe).

EFFINGHAM 9-6-17-11 43
LCHS 19-13-15-16 63

16 Donny Aeilts 1034
17 Dave Cadwallader 1028
18 Nathaniel Smith 1018
19 Jason Osborn 1012
21 Dan Duff 991

[by Jeff Benjamin]

Back to top