Railers split on Friday, will play for 3rd at Collinsville

Send a link to a friend  Share

[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 place.

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 Lincoln.

“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 our way.”

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 Southeast.

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 the evening.

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 toll.

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 not needed.

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, Turnovers 12.

SOUTHEAST 10-7-6-15 38
LINCOLN 7-6-4-13 30

[by Jeff Benjamin]

Back to top