Railers drop inaugural contest in Apollo

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[November 25, 2017]  Were the Bulldogs of Mahomet-Seymour very welcoming to the Lincoln Railers in their first contest as members of the Apollo Conference? In a word – Noe.

That’s not a miss by my spell check. Instead, it was a team knowing who their leader was, finding him, and letting him put the team on his shoulders. Senior Cory Noe scored 21 of his game-high 25 points in the second half and was involved by either scoring or assisting on every fourth quarter point for Mahomet-Seymour as they knocked off the Railers 48-42 on Friday night at Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium.

Simply put, Noe took over. With Lincoln up 31-25 in the third quarter, the offense for the Bulldogs seemed to be ‘get the ball to number five.’ After Noe brought his squad within two at the end of the fourth quarter, an Isaiah Bowers basket put Lincoln up 35-31. Noe scored three on a conventional three point play and then gave the Bulldogs the lead with a three-pointer with 3:51 remaining. After Ben Grunder tied the game at 37, Bowers hit three pointer at the 3:06 mark to give Lincoln the 40-37 advantage.

That is when Noe kicked it into high gear. A basket from the senior was followed by a three at 1:35, putting Mahomet-Seymour (3-0) up 42-40. From there, they left the Railers in their rear-view mirror. The next possession saw Noe drive the baseline, only to have the Lincoln defense cut off the baseline. Noe easily dumped off a pass to Joshua Johnson in the lane who got the easy two. Noe converted a pair of free throws to stretch their lead to 46-40.

Lincoln went almost three minutes before getting on the board, their final points coming from free throws by Colton Holliday. Noe drained two more from the charity stripe with 13 seconds to go to set the final score at 48-42. It was a very discouraging night for all of Railer Nation. “They executed and that’s what happens when you execute,” Lincoln coach Neil Alexander said. “Coach Benedict had his team ready. In fact, they (Mahomet-Seymour) , the way they looked, executed the way we normally do.”

As these teams opened Apollo Conference play, the Railers hoped home court advantage would put Lincoln in the win column. Unfortunately, it did not stick to the script. “There are only 12 conference games, not 18 and, now, we just lost our home court advantage,” Alexander said.

In a game that was close throughout, neither team having a lead more than six, the Railers got on the board first when Holliday took an inside pass from Grunder for a lay-in. The Bulldogs scored the next five to take the lead only to have Grunder cut the lead to one. Grant Coleman scored another two for Mahomet-Seymour while Grunder answered back with a 14-footer to put Lincoln within one at 7-6. Another four from the Bulldogs pushed the deficit to 11-6. As the clock neared zero at the end of the first quarter, there seemed to be some confusion on the part of the Railers as where everyone was supposed to be. The ball ended up with Holliday, who laid the ball in the basket, cutting the lead to 11-8. Not sure it was drawn up that way, but a score is a score.

In the early stages of the second quarter, Bowers hit a pair of free throws and a 15-foot jumper to keep the Railers down three at 15-12. After Coleman scored to put Mahomet-Seymour up 17-12, Coach Alexander reached down the bench to find some energy and hopefully some scoring. Lincoln’s own number five, sophomore Isaac Dewberry, showed he was ready for his season debut. Dewberry scored five consecutive points on a three pointer and strong drive to the basket to tie the game at 17. Noe scored to take the lead away from the Railers only to have Grunder’s driving layup knot the game again. After the Bulldogs took the lead back, Titus Cannon drove the lane and got past his defender to tie the game at 21. Lincoln did have one last shot to take the lead before half, but again, confusion seemed to reign and an off-balance three didn’t find the mark.

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With the game tied at 21, both teams were in the locker room knowing there were opportunities left on the floor. The key, however, was seeing the scorebook say that Mahomet’s Noe only had four points. He came in averaging over 21 a game and you just knew, he would be heard from. “Maybe they looked at the point he only had four points and thought, well, he’s not that good or they forgot about him,” Alexander said. “Well, as good as he is, he was going to get his.”

The third quarter started with Dewberry being rewarded for his first half by being on the floor as the second half got underway. Dewberry capitalized by hitting a corner three to give Lincoln their first lead since 2-0. A Mahomet score was answered by a three from Bowers. After Noe scored after a steal and layup, Holliday scored on a a drive and Dewberry continued his breakout night with a finger roll, putting the Railers up 31-25, their largest lead of the night.

And that’s when Noe took over. A two-time member of the all-tournament team, Noe solidified his place on this year’s squad. The senior is already on my ballot, no matter what happens on Saturday. As for the Railers, Coach Alexander stated “don’t give up on this team. This team can still be good, but there are a number of things that need to be worked on.” The work on those things, and others, will start on Saturday as the Railers do double duty, starting at 1pm with a game against Danville, a team that is averaging over 80 points a game. With some of the offensive struggles the Railers have shown in the first three games, the defense will have to step up to hold the Vikings close. The nightcap of the tournament will show the Railers taking on Bartonville Limestone, a team that has struggled to score this week.

On Friday nights, the Railers had three in double figures as Bowers led with 12, while Grunder and Dewberry added 10 apiece. Holliday scored eight while Cannon chipped in with two.

It will definitely be interesting to see how the Railers handle teams on opposite ends of the spectrum with matchups against the Vikings and Rockets. If you get the chance, make sure you stop out to see this team. The talent is there and once they figure out how to coexist together, this team will start looking more cohesive and any groans of frustration will be replaced with cheers of success.


Bowers 4 2-2 12, Grunder 5 0-0 10, Dewberry, 4 0-0 10, Holliday 3 2-2 8, Cannon 1 0-0 2, Hamlin 0 0-0 0, Sloan 0 0-0 0, Morris 0 0-0 0. TEAM 17 4-4 42. 3pt FG 4 (Bowers 2, Dewberry 2).


Noe 8 7-8 25, Colen 4 0-0 9, Johnson 4 0-1 8, Campion 2 0-0 4, Benedict 1 0-0 2. TEAM 19 7-9 48. 3pt FG 3 (Noe 2, Colemen).

MAH-SEY 11-10-10-17 48
LCHS          8-13-12- 9 42

[by Jeff Benjamin]

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