Lincoln extends streak to six behind bench, defense
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[December 23, 2017]
Coming into Friday night’s game
at Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium, the Lincoln Railers looked to continue
the play that been the reason behind a five game winning streak.
With 3-6 Charleston making their first conference trip to Lincoln,
things were setting up for the Railers to end the pre-Christmas
portion of the season on a high note.
The Railers did get the win, a 62-20 decision over Charleston. Yes,
the defense was there, forcing almost 20 turnovers, but Lincoln
returned the favor by committing 15 of their own. It was on the
strength of two big runs, a 20-4 run to start the game and a 28-2
stretch in the second half, that propelled Lincoln to a 8-2 record
heading in to Christmas break. However, with all the good that comes
with a 42-point win, a coach as successful as Lincoln’s Neil
Alexander finds the issues that can be problems down the road.
“We did not play with any emotion and this team has to play with
emotion to be successful,” Alexander said. “If we play with the lack
of emotion we showed tonight down in Collinsville next week, it will
not be very pretty. You have to practice with emotion so you can
play with it. It’s not some switch you can just flip on because
sometimes when you try to do that, it’s not there.”
Coach Alexander, who is now 400 games over .500 in his career
(788-388), went back to 6’9” junior Jermaine Hamblin for the
starting lineup and his decision was rewarded on Lincoln’s first
possession as a dump-in pass to Hamblin resulted in a hook shot that
was close to being a dunk. Hamblin, who finished with a career high
10 points, is a work in progress and Alexander knows how important
Hamblin can be, but knows he can’t be asked to do more than
“We have to work on feeding the post. Down the road, he (Hamblin)
might be able to handle more difficult passes,” Alexander said, “but
for now we have to get the ball to him so he can handle it cleanly.
He still has some learning to do but you see glimpses of what he can
Hamblin wasn’t the only one to record a career high. Sophomore Isaac
Dewberry scored a team-high 14 points to lead a bench that scored 32
points on the night. In all, nine Railers scored with Isaiah Bowers
adding 12 points as Lincoln had three in double figures for the
second time this season.
As always seems to be the trend, the Railers success starts and ends
with their vaunted defense and after Friday night, the defense is
allowing less than 35 points a game. Over their last five games,
they have allowed more than 33 points just once. After the Hamblin
basket to start the game, it was two straight turnovers from the
Lincoln defense that the Railers converted to points and a 6-0
deficit was enough for an early timeout from Charleston coach Blain
Mayhall just 2:38 into the game.
The Trojans (3-7, 0-4) finally got on the board with a Lincoln
turnover that was converted into the first points of the night on a
layup by Luke Buescher. Lincoln responded with a Ben Grunder layup
after a steal by Bowers and a two-hand alley-oop dunk by Hamblin off
a lob pass from Titus Cannon. Heading into the second quarter with a
12-4 lead, the Railers used free throws to build their lead during
an 8-0 run. The Railers stretched the lead to 20-4 after Dewberry
sank three of four from the line after a foul and a technical foul
on the Charleston bench at the 4:50 mark of the second.
Charleston’s Zach Bennett scored four of his team high eight points
to cut the lead to 12 at 20-8. Colton Holliday and Bennett traded
baskets twice to put the margin at 24-12. Bowers ended the half in
good fashion as he drained a 15-footer at the first half buzzer
giving Lincoln a 26-12 edge at the break. The Railers continue their
good play in the first half as they have yet to trail at halftime
[to top of second column]
The third quarter was all Lincoln, outscoring the Trojans 14-4.
After Hamblin converted a conventional three-point play and Darrell
Phillips hit the game’s first three, the Railers hit the gas. Up
30-16, Lincoln put the game out of reach with more defense that
confused and frustrated Charleston. By the time Dewberry scored on a
back door layup on a pass from Cannon to end the third quarter, the
Railers were in command with a 40-16 lead.
Dewberry continued his strong play, scoring Lincoln’s first nine
points of the fourth quarter in a variety of manners. Whether it was
a baseline drive, an offensive rebound basket, or a three from the
right corner, the sophomore continues to force his way onto the
floor as an offensive threat. By the time his three went down,
Lincoln was up 52-18. Drew Bacon sandwiched Dewberry with a pair of
threes, the first being Lincoln’s first one of the game coming with
five minutes left in the contest.
Will Ewald scored his first points of the season with a three from
just to the left of the top of the key while freshman Dylan
Singleton scored in his first appearance of the season to end up the
Lincoln scoring as the game closed with a 62-20 win as the Railers
closed out the first half of the conference season with a 5-1 mark
in the Apollo.
It will be interesting to see if the Railer defense will make the
trip to Collinsville. Over the first 40 quarters of the season,
Lincoln’s defense has allowed double figure scoring in only 11 of
them. With the teams on the horizon, this Lincoln defense will
certainly be put to the test. As Coach Alexander said, the bracket
committee “did us no favors by matching us up with a 7-1 team in
Along with the trio in double figures that combined for 36 points,
Holliday added seven with Grunder and Bacon each scoring six.
Ewald’s three and two each from Tate Sloan and Singleton rounded out
the Railer output.
So now, the Railers can enjoy a few days before the trip to
Collinsville. Again, they will play at 1pm on Thursday against
Hazelwood East from the St. Louis area. As always, the lineup is
filled with talented teams and getting to the championship will be
earned. “I will learn a lot about this team in Collinsville,”
Alexander said. “We’ll see just where this team is and who knows, we
could see a Quincy team that just beat Washington at home and
Southeast or Decatur could be on the horizon as well.”
Dewberry 5 3-4 14, Bowers 6 0-0 12, Hamblin 3 4-5 10, Holliday 3 1-2
7, Grunder 3 0-0 6, Bacon 2 0-0 6, Ewald 1 0-0 3, Sloan 1 0-1 2,
Singleton 1 0-2 2, Cannon 0 0-0 0, Whiteman 0 0-0 0, Pozsgai 0 0-0
0, Froebe 0 0-0 0, Funk 0 0-0 0. TEAM 25 8-14 62. 3pt FG 4 (Bacon 2,
Bennett 8, Buescher 6, Phillips 3, Finley 2, Hurst 1. TEAM 7 5-11
20. 3pt FG 1 (Phillips).
CHARLESTON 4 - 8- 4- 4 20
LINCOLN 12-14-14-22 62
[by Jeff Benjamin]