Railers split Saturday matchup to finish over .500 for week
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[November 26, 2017]
The Lincoln Railers came away
with a 13-point win on Saturday night over Bartonville Limestone,
ending a long week of basketball to start the 2017-18 season. The
3-2 mark for the Railers after the 52-39 win over the Rockets is not
maybe where they would have wanted to be, especially after kicking
off the tournament with two wins. However, based on the number of
items on the checklist of areas to work on for this team, an above
.500 start is a good place for the coaching staff to start pushing
this team in the right direction.
Senior Isaiah Bowers scored a team-high 19 points on his way to be
named to the all-tournament team and the Railers used a 22-3 run in
the first half to take away any question about the outcome of the
tournament nightcap. The Rockets (0-5) struggled through the
tournament without their full complement of players and, although a
couple of the players were available on Saturday night, the Railers
finally seemed a bit at ease on the court.
Bowers was the catalyst during the run, taking over with the ability
to be aggressive in driving to the basket, something Lincoln was
very hesitant to due during the morning contest with Danville. After
Lincoln got out to a 10-6 lead, the senior scored 12 of the Railers’
next 14 points, all in a variety of ways. Whether it was a 14-footer
or three-pointer, it was his driving ability that seemed to make the
biggest difference in the game. On three straight possessions,
Bowers drove straight to the basket, scoring baskets and getting
fouled on the first two, while converting a steal into a basket on
the third. The Railers built a comfortable 28-11 lead at halftime.
Bowers continued his strong play as he scored Lincoln’s first five
points of the second half, giving him 19 for the night and pushing
the Railer advantage to 22. After Bowers went to the bench, his
teammates continued their solid play as Isaac Dewberry scored on an
out of bounds alley oop play and Ben Grunder connected for a three
pointer to push the Lincoln lead to 26. Now, from there, things did
get a bit sloppy for the rest of the night, so much so that the
Rockets cut that lead in half by the end of the game. The game was
well in hand, but situations like this can cause bad habits, habits
that may have started in practice.
“When you have games like this, you can pick up or start bad habits,
habits that can carry over,” Coach Neil Alexander said. “But, these
are habits you can start in practice. If you practice at half speed
and try to play at full speed during a game, it doesn’t work when
you realize you are trying to do things at full speed that you
haven’t practiced in that manner.”
It is still hard to pinpoint the style of the Railers even after the
first week of the season, but Alexander knows exactly where this
team will begin the process of becoming more consistent. “The
rotation of our backs on defense,” Alexander said. “The backs on our
defense are the key and if they aren’t doing the job, then our
defense isn’t the same and defense will be the part of the game that
needs to be right for us to have success.”
Limestone closed the game on a 17-5 run, but after digging such a
hole, they just ran out of time. For the Rockets it was a glimpse of
maybe getting back to normal and, for the Railers, hopefully a swing
back in the right direction to get ready for conference play.
Bowers led the way with the 19 points, followed by Grunder’s nine
points. Grunder was also named to the all-tournament team. Dewberry
continued his valuable bench play with eight points, Titus Cannon
and Tate Sloan added five with Colton Holliday scored four. Jermaine
Hamlin chipped in with a basket and continued to show glimpses of
how impactful he can be on the defensive end.
As for the tournament, Danville picked up the championship trophy by
finishing 5-0 after handling Mahomet-Seymour 64-47. The
all-tournament team was made up of two players each from five of the
six teams. Along with Bowers and Grunder for Lincoln, the team
consisted of Danville’s Kendle Moore and Sean Houpt, Mahomet’s Cory
Noe and Grant Coleman, Centennial’s Bryson Cowper and Tommy Makabu,
and Cahokia’s Richard Robinson and Elijah Rice.
The tournament standings finished Danville 5-0, Mahomet-Seymour 3-2,
Lincoln 3-2, Cahokia 2-3, Centennial 2-3, and Limestone 0-5.
In the first game, the Railers were able to hold the Danville
Vikings to about half of their scoring average. Unfortunately, it
was more of the little things not going Lincoln’s way that led to
the Vikings holding off the Railers 43-35.
In similar fashion to Friday night, when it mattered most, the
Lincoln opponents found their key player who was able to take over
in the fourth quarter. Following the performance of
Mahomet-Seymour’s Cory Noe, Saturday afternoon Danville’s Kendle
Moore scored nine of his team’s eleven points, leading to a game
high 22 points. Meanwhile, the Railers did not take advantage of the
numerous opportunities and Danville was able to come up big in the
The key plays of the game were a case of Lincoln getting a taste of
their own medicine. Late in the third quarter, Danville’s Caleb
Griffin scored on a three pointer from the left corner. Griffin was
the inbounder and, after throwing the ball in, got the ball right
back and drained a three. With about three seconds to go in the
third, it was a case of déjà vu as Griffin scored in similar
fashion, this one giving the Vikings a 32-29 lead. “That’s one of
our plays that we have,” Lincoln coach Neil Alexander said after the
game. “We’ve seen that play, we’ve run that play. When you’ve got a
shooter as the inbounds passer, he’s going to get the ball back.”
[to top of second column]
The momentum the Vikings took from the end of the third was in play
during the fourth as Danville ended the game on a 9-2 run. The
Railer defense did a good job throughout but the offense is still
struggling to find an identity as they only made six field goals
during the second half. The difference in the game was how
successful Danville was in converting Lincoln mistakes into points,
something the Railers did not do.
The Railers took an early 6-2 lead on a 14-footer from Isaiah
Bowers, a lay-in from Jermaine Hamlin, and a shot off the glass in
the lane from Colton Holliday. A three from Moore tightened the game
to one and fast break basket from Day’len Davis Williams gave the
Vikings the 7-6 lead. Bowers was big early as he hit again from 12
feet to give the lead back to Lincoln. Danville struck again from
long range as Moore and Sean Houpt each hit a three-pointer. Down
13-8, Titus Cannon connected on his only field goal of the game, a
three from the right wing, as the quarter came to a close bringing
the Railers to within 13-11.
Remember the opportunities the Railers missed? Lincoln started the
second with one of those. After an easy layup miss, Danville’s Moore
converted a basket for a four-point swing. It was like that for much
of the game. But, as was evident for most of the game, Lincoln would
not go away. A three from Ben Grunder and a shot from the free throw
line by Bowers put the Railers back up by one at 16-15. Danville
took the advantage back with a three from Moore at 20-17. Down
22-20, the Railers were able to even the game at 22 as sophomore
Isaac Dewberry drove from the wing for an easy score.
For the second straight game, the Railers entered halftime tied. As
was mentioned during the broadcast, it still felt as though the
Vikings had an extra gear they could tap into to.
After a basket gave the Vikings the lead, the Railers put together
their best stretch of the day, going on a 7-2 run to take a 29-26
lead. Hamlin went strong to the basket for a lay-in, while Bowers
hit a 15-footer, and Dewberry picked up a loose ball in the lane for
another bucket. After Hamlin split a pair of free throws, Lincoln
had climbed to a three point lead. That’s when Griffin took over
from long range to swing the momentum to the Vikings.
The Railers were able to hang tough during the 9-2 run to end the
game, but it wasn’t enough. Again, the little things came up big.
“We played hard, came out with good energy, but we need to fix some
things,” Alexander said. “They are correctable and we will come out
tonight and see how we’ve improved. After last night, mentally, we
needed this game because after that game we could’ve not come out
Bowers reached double figures again, this time leading with 14
points, while Hamlin and Dewberry each had six. Cannon scored four,
with Grunder adding three, and Holliday scoring two.
After the smorgasbord of basketball this week, the Railers will now
be able to reset and settle into a normal schedule with the next
game set for Friday as Taylorville returns to Roy S. Anderson
Gymnasium as conference opponents of Lincoln. Game time set for
7:30pm with the JV set to get things going at 6pm.
Bowers 7 0-0 14, Hamlin 2 2-6 6, Dewberry 3 0-0 6, Cannon 1 1-1 4,
Grunder 1 0-0 3, Holliday 1 0-0 2, Sloan 0 0-0 0. TEAM 15 3-7 35.
3pt FG 2 (Cannon, Grunder).
Moore 6 6-6 22, Griffin 2 1-2 7, Davis-Williams 3 1-2 7, Houpt 1 0-1
3, Reed 1 0-0 2, Forthenberry 1 0-0 2. TEAM 14 8-11 43. 3pt FG 7
(Moore 4, Griffin 2, Houpt).
DHS 13-9-10-11 43
LCHS 11-22-7-6 35
Bowers 7 3-4 19, Grunder 4 0-0 9, Dewberry 4 0-0 8, Cannon 1 3-6 5,
Sloan 1 3-4 5, Holliday 2 0-0 4, Hamlin 1 0-0 2, Morris 0 0-0 0.
TEAM 20 9-14 52. 3pt FG 3 (Bowers 2, Grunder).
Payton 12, Stear 9, Dunne 5, Rupp 3, Kizer 3, Ulrich 3,
Hollingsworth 2, Borrowman 2. TEAM 13 6-10 39. 3pt FG 7 (Stear 3,
Rupp, Payton, Dunne, Ulrich)
LIMESTONE 6- 5-11-17 39
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