Railer defense leads Lincoln to win over Cahokia
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[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
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
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
“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
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,
CAHOKIA 8-2-9-9 28
LCHS 9-6-16-9 40
[by Jeff Benjamin]