Balanced offense puts Lincoln back in win column
LINCOLN 44, ROCHESTER 31
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[January 18, 2017]
Well, now that’s more like it.
Last Friday night over the course of a regulation game and an
overtime period, the Lincoln Railers only had four players score,
including only three in the second half, en route to a listless
26-22 loss to Chatham Glenwood. On Tuesday night, with a few items
added to the offense, the Railers had seven different players score
in the game’s first ten minutes as Lincoln defeated Rochester 44-31
in the Central State Eight Non-City Boys’ Tournament.
It was a return to Railer basketball. Tough defense, crisp ball
movement, unselfish play, taking smart shots. It seems like when one
of the puzzle pieces falls into place, the rest just follows along.
Aside from the win, getting the ugly taste of the Glenwood defeat
out of their mouth may have been one of the bright spots from
“We had to find more scoring options so we added some things to the
offense,” Coach Neil Alexander said. “ We pulled out some four
around one, set some picks to get folks open, and we took and made
some good shots.”
From the opening tip, it was evident the Railers were going to do
what they could to not have a repeat performance of the previous
game. Lincoln got the scoring started on a three from Isaiah Bowers,
who Alexander commented “played one of his best games of the year
because he didn’t force anything and he let the game come to him.”
The lead increased to 5-0 when Bowers found Ben Grunder on the low
block for a turn and easy score. Grunder was again in the starting
lineup from Drew Bacon. Rochester’s Collin Stallworth got the hosts
on the board with a baseline jumper. Stallworth, the Rockets’
leading scorer, finished with only six, a key to the win.
“I thought we did a nice job of knowing where he is. When you play
him, and he’s a good player,” Alexander said, “you have to do two
things. Cover him on the perimeter and make sure you keep him off
the boards. I thought we controlled him well.”
Nolan Hullinger continued the hot shooting with a three from the top
of the key before another Rochester score made it 8-4. The balanced
attack continued with a lay-in from Titus Cannon and a left corner
three from Tate Sloan, making it 13-4 in favor of the visitors.
Rochester closed the quarter strong with the final four points to
cut the margin to five at 13-8.
Plain and simple, the second quarter was all Lincoln, rocketing (pun
intended) to a 16-2 run that put the Railers in the driver’s seat
heading to intermission. A pair of free throws from Bowers preceded
a deep three from Bryson Kirby. When Bacon, who returned to the
lineup off the bench, scored on a back door play from Bowers with
6:06 to go in the quarter, it pushed the Lincoln lead to 20-8. It
also put seven different Railers in the scorebook. This is what a
balanced scoring plan looks like.
Grunder scored on another drive before Bacon converted two more
baskets as the Lincoln lead grew to 26-8. A long two from
Rochester’s Jayden Reed ended the drought for Rochester before
Bowers drained a 16-footer. Sophomore Jermaine Hamilin got some
early playing time and the made the most of it by altering shots on
the defensive end while earning free throws with his hard work on
the offensive side. The 6’8” sophomore split his free throws to
round out the first half with Lincoln up 29-10.
[to top of second column]
Again, Lincoln’s lead seemed comfortable, but in the earlier
sophomore game, Lincoln had a 20 point fourth quarter lead that
eventually dwindled down to seven, so nothing was taken for granted.
The early part of the third belonged to Grunder, who scored nine of
his game high 13 points in the quarter. The junior started it with a
three pointer. Rochester did come out more aggressive and made it a
point to be stronger going to the basket. Rochester and Grunder
alternated baskets, the last of Rochester’s a baseline drive for an
easy two. After Grunder scored to make it 36-14, the Rockets’ Adam
Schwartz, who scored eight in the quarter, hit a three from the same
corner he had just started his baseline drive from.
ROCHESTER 8-2-13-8 31
“They did some things in the second half that we did not respond
well to,” Alexander said. Another Rochester score in the paint cut
the lead to 17 before Grunder and Bowers played the pick and roll to
perfection as Bowers fed Grunder for another score. Another three
from Schwartz was followed by a lay-in from Kirby putting Lincoln up
40-22. The Railers caught a big break at the end of the quarter.
With 1.7 seconds left, Rochester split a pair of free throws. On the
inbounds, Bacon was able to sneak down court all alone where Bowers
found him with the inbounds pass. Bacon caught the pass, turned, and
laid in it as the buzzer sounded giving the Railers a 42-23 heading
to the fourth.
Bacon finished the scoring for the Railers early in the final period
as his bucket put him in double figures with ten. It was a good
return to the lineup from his injury. The important day will be
tomorrow and how he recovers from the first minutes he has played
since the Lanphier game two weeks ago. Rochester scored the game’s
final eight points in garbage time. All in all, a much better
performance and a glimpse of ways this team can score. Now, the
question, is can they repeat the performance?
Grunder and Bacon led with 13 and 10 points respectively. Bowers
finished with seven, while Kirby added five. Hullinger and Sloan
each hit from three point range, while Cannon added two and Hamlin
chipped in with a free throw.
The Railers (12-6, 6-2) will have a quick turnaround and a chance to
avenge a loss to Decatur MacArthur on Wednesday night at Roy S.
Anderson Gymnasium. This is the makeup date for the postponement
this past Saturday. Lincoln has already had a glimpse at the
Generals, a 51-41 loss on the final day of the Collinsville Holiday
Classic. This is a MacArthur team that owns a win over Lanphier so
the Railers will definitely have their hands full on Wednesday. A
strong turnout from Railer Nation would be great to see as Lincoln
continues to try to stay near the top of the Central State Eight.
Sophomores tip at 6:00pm with varsity set for 7:30pm.
Grunder 6 0-0 13, Bacon 5 0-1 10, Bowers 2 2-2 7, Kirby 2 0-1 5,
Hullinger 1 0-0 3, Sloan 1 0-0 3, Cannon 1 0-0 2, Hamlin 0 1-2 2,
Morris 0 0-0 0, Combs 0 0-0 0, Birnbaum 0 0-0 0, Dewberry 0 0-0 0.
TEAM 18 3-6 44. 3pt FG 5 (Hullinger, Kirby, Bowers, Grunder, Sloan).
Schwartz 9, Stallworth 6, Sutker 6, Baker 3, Reed 3, Dyer 2, Rosche
2. TEAM 12 5-11 31. 3pt FG 2 (Schwarz 2).
LCHS 13-16-13-2 44