Railers split on Friday, will play for 3rd at Collinsville
Send a link to a friend
[January 16, 2018]
The Lincoln Railers had hoped to
be playing in the last game on Saturday night at the 34th annual
Prairie Farms Holiday Classic. Unfortunately, following their loss
to Springfield Southeast on Friday night, the Railers will be hoping
to end their weekend on a winning note and bringing home third
Lincoln fell into the consolation game after a 38-30 defeat at the
hands of former conference foe Southeast. The Railers were able to
hang close for most of the game, all the while Southeast was able to
slowly stretch the lead at the end of each of the first three
quarters. In the end, it was Southeast’s tenacious defense leaving
the Railers with limited offensive opportunities that doomed
“It was certainly not one of our best performances, by far,” a
frustrated Lincoln coach Neil Alexander said after the game. “We got
to the basket early on but missed our layups. Then, we quit going to
the basket and then in the end, we went back and it just didn’t go
Unlike most other opponents this season, there is certainly a vast
familiarity between the Railers and Southeast. There are no secrets.
In most of their matchups of the past CS8 years, it simply comes
down to the team that executes best. On Friday night, that was
Things got off to a good start for the Railers when 6’9” junior
Jermaine Hamlin took a pass on the low block, spun baseline scoring
the basket and getting fouled. After his free throw, Lincoln had
taken an early 3-0 lead. Southeast came back with a 4-0 run,
punctuating by a thunderous dunk off a steal from Southeast’s
Anthony Fairlee. The lead flipped back to the Railers on a Ben
Grunder score, the 5-4 lead being the last advantage for Lincoln on
Another 4-0 Spartan run put the top-seeded squad up 8-5 before a
score from Isaiah Bowers cut the margin back to one. After the first
quarter, Lincoln was down only 10-7, certainly a manageable deficit.
Even though there is that ‘I know what you’re going to do before you
even do it’ mentality between the teams, the Railers went to an old
reliable to cut the lead to one as Titus Cannon found Bowers on a
back door play. With Southeast up 10-9, the Railers had the game and
score just at the pace they wanted. However, the Southeast defense
ratcheted up a notch, forcing Lincoln into bad shots and
lackadaisical turnovers and helping them on a 7-0 run, including a
three from Kobe Medley.
With Lincoln trailing 17-9, any opportunities were important. After
a pair of misses at the line from Bowers, Cannon took his shot and
was fouled on a drive to the basket. Cannon made both to bring the
margin down to six. The Railers did catch a break as Southeast
attempted to wind down the first half clock as a Lincoln trap forced
a mishandle from Southeast. Cannon was able to secure the ball on
the sideline before getting fouled. With a little over two seconds
left, Cannon sank two more free throws, cutting the Southeast lead
to 17-13 at the break.
With all the missed opportunities in the first half, being down only
four seemed like a win. It was only the first time the Railers have
trailed at the break this season. The Spartans got the first score
of the second half on a hardly contested layup from Damon Davis. The
Railers answered back after a steal from Tate Sloan led to a layup
from Bowers. After another four in a row from Southeast, the Railer
deficit had grown to eight at 23-15. It wasn’t that the Spartans
went on a lot of big runs. It was a bite here, a nibble there. Each
one not feeling too bad, but in total it was starting to take its
A basket from Cannon again pulled Lincoln closer at 23-17 to end the
third quarter and Southeast was doing just enough to keep the
Railers hanging around. The game grew closer to start the fourth
when Bowers drained a three from the left corner, Lincoln’s first
three of the night and in one shot the deficit had been chopped in
half at 23-20. Southeast kept just enough distance to feel safe with
another 4-0 mark and a 27-20 lead.
As he has been doing all tournament, when Lincoln needed, Cannon
delivered. His three-pointer pulled the Railers within four at
27-23. After the teams traded scores making it 29-25, Southeast went
on the final run that sealed Lincoln’s fate. A 7-2 spurt, which
included Bowers fouling out at the 2:45 mark, pushed the lead to
nine, the largest of the night for Coach Lawrence Thomas’ team.
Southeast was able to win the game at the line, converting on 9 of
10, during the fourth quarter.
“We may run across them again this year and I hope we do,” Alexander
said, referencing the possibility of matching up with Southeast
during regional or sectional play. “I’d like to see what we’ve
learned and how we would match up.”
Lincoln was led by the duo of Bowers and Cannon, each scoring nine
with Grunder adding seven. Hamlin chipped in with the first three
points of the game and Dewberry added a fourth quarter basket.
Lincoln finished the game shooting only 36 percent while committing
15 turnovers as Southeast knocked down 45 percent of their shots and
outrebounded the Railers 21-20.
The Railers advanced to the semi-finals by the skin of their teeth
during Friday’s first contest. After holding Quincy to just one
field goal in the second and third quarters combined and being up 14
after three, you would think Lincoln would not struggle to reach
farther in the winner’s bracket. Well, no none told Quincy and
Lincoln needed overtime to survive the Blue Devils 47-41.
Quincy, which had made only two three pointers in the first 24
minutes, drained five in the fourth during a furious comeback
featuring an 18-6 run to force overtime. After struggling with free
throws all season, including going 7 of 12 in the second half,
Lincoln hit 7 of 8 from the line in the extra session to hold off
Quincy for the win.
“This was an important win for us. People may not realize it, but we
beat a good team in a game where we were up, they came back and we
had to show something to ourselves in getting the win,” Alexander
said after the win. “We held them to 41 points, a Quincy team that
has been scoring, so that is a good effort.”
[to top of second column]
For the first three quarters, play was solid for Lincoln. After
getting down early, baskets from Hamlin and Grunder gave Lincoln a
4-3 lead. Bowers took over with a three-pointer and a 15-footer
putting the Railers up 9-5. A three pointer from Quincy’s Jacob Ary,
who would play the part of a villain in the fourth quarter, cut the
lead to one before Lincoln went on a 10-0 run. The run was bookended
by threes from Isaac Dewberry and Cannon as well as the senior point
guard getting a shot to drop at the buzzer ending the first quarter.
Neither team did much scoring during the second quarter as another
three from Ary and a pair of free throws from Jaeden Smith were the
only tallies in the scorebook for Quincy. After the earlier run,
Bowers ended the first half output with a steal and layup. Up 21-13,
Lincoln felt like it was in control after shooting 60 percent and
forcing 9 turnovers. It just seemed like the eight point lead was
bigger than it was.
The Lincoln defense really tightened down in the third, keeping
Quincy from any field goals. Hamlin got the scoring started with a
dunk off a nice interior pass, while Bowers scored on a drive and a
15-footer. With Lincoln up 29-14 in the latter stages of the third
quarter, a play that could have started the momentum turn certainly
drew the ire of the Lincoln bench and crowd. As time was winding
down, Smith took the ball near mid-court and tried to gather himself
to get off a half court attempt. As Tate Sloan pressured the
basketball, Sloan was whistled for a foul as Smith attempted a
‘shot’ from the timeline. It didn’t look like Smith had gained
enough control to call in a shot, cut the officials felt otherwise.
Smith missed the first two, making the third, and setting the stage
for a comeback from the 29-15 margin.
Everything that had not gone in during the first quarters for Quincy
went in the fourth. A three-point play from Aaron Shoot followed by
another Quincy basket dropped the margin into singled digits at
29-20. Ben Grunder scored a huge basket with a left-handed layup
with just under seven minutes to go. It would be Lincoln’s last
field goal in regulation. While Quincy kept hitting threes, the
Railers saw the points only coming from the free throw line. After
three straight long ones, Quincy had clawed back from down 15 to
being down just five at 34-29.
As he has been all tournament, big plays seemed to involve Cannon.
Cannon must have thought he was back at Handlin Field carrying the
football when he was fouled and driven hard into the scorer’s table.
It was quite the hard hit and it may have been part of the reason he
missed the front end of the one and one. However, in true Railer
fashion, Cannon was able to prevent Quincy from drawing any closer
at the moment as he came away with a steal, took the ball from the
right sideline driving straight to the basket. He sank both free
throws to push the lead back to seven at 36-29. Yes, Quincy
eventually tied it but who is to say if the score there, overtime is
Another three from Smith cut the game to 37-35 and a free throw from
Matthew Schwiete pulled Quincy within one. With 38 seconds to go,
Bowers split a pair of free throws. Up two, the nerves were
certainly on edge, especially with how well Quincy had been making
threes. With 5.5 seconds left, Smith drove the baseline for what
looked like a clean layup only to be fouled by Drew Bacon. It is
also possible Smith was looking to the corner for Ary and a
potential game winning three. Smith made both free throws to tie the
game at 38. The Railers did get a last second look, but Bacon’s shot
from just outside the lane fell short.
Lincoln took the early lead in overtime off a drive from Dewberry.
After a turnover by Quincy, Bowers sank two more free throws to
build the lead to four. Lincoln’s defense continued to bother Quincy
as the Blue Devils never seemed to get on track. With 51 seconds
remaining, Dewberry split two free throws before Shoot scored a
basket with 35 left, pulling the lead back down to three at 43-40.
The leaders down in Collinsville stepped up in the game’s final 22
seconds with Cannon and Bowers each hitting two free throws to
preserve the Railer win by six.
Bowers and Cannon led in double figures with 16 and 13 respectively
while Dewberry and Grunder each added seven. Hamlin scored the other
four Lincoln points.
So now there is one game left and that is against another former CS8
mate as Collinsville knocked off Decatur MacArthur. The Railers and
Generals will meet up for third on Saturday night at 6:00pm. “I told
the kids the only thing we can do now is come out and play hard and
the best we can do is win third place and that’s what we’re going to
try to do tomorrow,” Alexander said.
Bowers 5-12 5-6 16, Cannon 3-5 6-7 13, Grunder 3-5 1-3 7, Dewberry
2-3 2-4 7, Hamlin 2-3 0-0 4, Sloan 0-0 0-0 0, Bacon 0-3 0-0 0. TEAM
15-31 14-20 47. 3pt FG 3-9 (Dewberry 1-2, Cannon 1-3, Bowers 1-3,
Bacon 0-1). Rebounds 19 (Bowers, Bacon 4), Assists 8 (Grunder 3),
Steals 9 (3 tied with 2), Turnovers 12.
Smith 13, Ary 12, Shoot 8, Brock 5, Amos 2, Schwiete 1. Team 12-31
10-16 41. 3pt FG 7-22 (Ary 4, Smith 2, Shoot). Rebounds 22, Assists
8, Steals 5, Turnovers 16.
QUINCY 8-5-2-23-3 41
LINCOLN 14-7-8-9-9 47
Cannon 2-6 4-4 9, Bowers 4-11 0-2 9, Grunder 3-10 1-3 7, Hamlin 1-2
1-1 3, Dewberry 1-2 0-0 2, Sloan 0-0 0-0 0,Bacon 0-0 0-0 0, Holliday
0-0 0-0 0. TEAM 11-31 6-10 30. 3pt FG 2-8 (Cannon 1-2, Bowers 1-3,
Dewberry 0-1, Grunder 0-2). Rebounds 20 (Bowers 4), Assists 4
(Cannon 2), Steals 5 (Sloan 2), Turnovers 15.
Tyler 10, Sims 8, Murdix 7, Fairlee 6, Medley 5, Davis 2. TEAM 14-31
9-13 38. 3pt FG 1-12 (Medley). Rebounds 21, Assists 7, Steals 7,
SOUTHEAST 10-7-6-15 38
LINCOLN 7-6-4-13 30
[by Jeff Benjamin]