Railer defense leads Lincoln to win over Cahokia

Send a link to a friend  Share

[November 23, 2017] 

If it had not been for a stout and hands-on Railer defense on Wednesday night, the outcome at Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium might have been very different. Fortunately, Lincoln held Cahokia to single digit scoring in each quarter, including just ten points in the first half as the Railers stayed perfect on the young season knocking off the Comanches 40-28.

The 68 points combined represents the seventh fewest points in tournament history, while the 28 scored by Cahokia is the ninth fewest by a single team. There must have been something in the water Wednesday night as Limestone set the record for fewest points by tallying only 22 points against Mahomet-Seymour.

As for the Railers, it certainly took a while before either team found their stroke on the offensive end. The big push came from Lincoln senior Isaiah Bowers as he connected for 15 of his game high 22 points in the second half as the Railers went on a 23-8 run in the second half to secure the win. However, there were plenty of opportunities for the margin to be larger, a fact not lost on Lincoln coach Neil Alexander.

“You saw what the potential of this team is, in spurts, but I’m waiting for the 32 minutes,” Alexander said. “I told them in the locker room ‘good teams finish games.’ We’ve had teams that had a three or four point lead with four minutes to go, we knew we had it. This team has to learn how to do that.”

In the first half, both teams struggled to find any semblance of an offensive flow. Whether it was turnovers, bad shots, you name it, each team found ways not to score or even give themselves the opportunity. The teams went back and forth in scoring in the first quarter, but not without the chance to take early control. The Railers got the early 4-0 lead thanks to an offensive rebound from Ben Grunder and an alley oop lay-in by Jermaine Hamlin off a pass from Grunder. Hamlin showed a very nice touch from the outside as he hit from 17 feet to give Lincoln the lead at 7-4. However, as much of an effort as the Railers displayed on Monday night to get the ball inside to their 6’9” junior, Cahokia kept the ball from Hamlin and his jumper was his last basket of the night.

After Cahokia brought the margin back to one, Hamlin did show his importance by grabbing an offensive rebound which led to a 15-footer from Bowers. It was his first field goal of the night as he had struggled from behind the arc throughout the first quarter. The Comanches closed to 9-8 and missed their chances, four of them in fact, to take the lead at the end of the first, but could not get any of their offensive rebounds to go down in the quarter’s final ten seconds.

The offensive struggles kicked into overdrive in the second quarter as more turnovers and bad shots affected both squads. The scoreboard operator had nothing to do until 4:32 left in the half when Bowers hit a 12-foot jumper to give Lincoln an 11-8 lead. A Lincoln free throw pushed the lead to four and didn’t change until Cahokia finally got a basket from Richard Robinson with a minute to go in the half. After all of his misses from outside in the half, Bowers redeemed himself by hitting the only three for either team in the first half with four seconds to go to give the Railers (2-0) a five point lead at 15-10.

So, do we credit the defense for playing so well or were the offenses just that bad? The teams combined to go 11 of 40 from the field, including 1-13 from three point range. It had to get better in the second half, right?

 [to top of second column]

Well, at least in the second half it did for Lincoln, led by Bowers. The senior picked up where he left off at the end of the first half by scoring eight of Lincoln’s first ten points of the third quarter, including two more from three point range, to push the lead to 25-17. The scoring finally became contagious as a fade away in the lane from Grunder and driving reverse layup by Colton Holliday extended the margin to twelve at 29-17. Bowers, who will play in his 100th career game on Saturday, hit a 15 footer to end the quarter with Lincoln on top 31-19.

A 7-2 run by the Railers to start the fourth put the game out of reach at 38-21. After a another drive and score from Grunder, Bowers hit his fourth three-pointer and then was the recipient of a pinpoint back door pass from Titus Cannon , converting the layup. Cahokia (0-2) did end the game on a 7-2 run, but a lot of the scoring was the late game, just let them score so we can get out of here points.

The offensive struggles were evident on the stat sheet as well. The teams combined for 36 turnovers, while Lincoln shot 42 percent and held the visitors to just 33 percent. Neither team was stellar from the free throw line, but there weren’t many chances with Lincoln going 2 of 5 with Cahokia missing two of their three shots. But, the turnovers, ugh. The game did not take long to play, but those turnovers, from both teams, made it feel like being in a traffic jam. Coach Alexander mentioned the turnovers might get his team in better shape.

“It might be time to go back to putting limits on the turnovers, as we have in the past,” Alexander said. “We used to say eight, that’s two a quarter, and that’s still too many for me. But, any over that, and their legs may be the ones that feel those turnovers in practice.” It has not been many games where you see Lincoln commit 17 turnovers, but a win is a win.

Bowers led with 22 points and 6 rebounds. However, he did take 20 shots while the rest of the team took 21. Lincoln will need more of an offensive balance for this team to get where it wants. Grunder finished with eight points and five rebounds with Holliday and Hamlin each adding five points.

After celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday, Lincoln will be back at it Friday night as they take their first dip into the waters of the Apollo Conference by taking on Mahomet-Seymour. The Railers and Bulldogs have battled before in this tournament but this will be the first time as conference opponents. Game time at Roy S. Anderson is set for 8:00pm. If you haven’t had the chance to see this Railer team, Friday night would be a great opportunity to catch this year’s version of the Railers.


Bowers 9 0-0 22, Grunder 4 0-1 8, Hamlin 2 1-2 5, Holliday 2 1-2 5, Cannon 0 0-0 0, Sloan 0 0-0 0, Morris 0 0-0 0. TEAM 17-41 2-5 41. 3-pt field goals 4-13 (Bowers 4). Rebounds 29, Assists 9, Turnovers 17.


Robinson 8,Rice 7, Basquine 5, Brown 4, Hudson 2, Basquine 2. TEAM 13-39 1-3 28. 3-pt field goals 1-13 (Rice). Rebounds 24, Assists 5, Turnovers 19.

CAHOKIA 8-2-9-9 28
LCHS 9-6-16-9 40

[by Jeff Benjamin]

Back to top