Saturday night: A win for the Railers, but just a game
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[February 04, 2018]
paper, Saturday night’s 51-27 win by the Lincoln Railers over Rock
island will look like another in a recent string of defensively
dominant performances. During the current five-game winning streak,
the Railers have been holding opponents to less than 28 points a
game. In reality, it was a lesson that life sometimes gets in the
While the Railers did improve to 18-5 on the season, they were
playing a Rock Island team that was playing without one of their top
players and with the emotion of being there for a teammate when he
can’t be there for the team. In the past week, Rock Island junior
Jamir Price suffered the devastating blow of the unexpected death of
his mother. Price, doing “what he thought his mom would want him to
do,” played in Rock Island’s game the following day. Price also
played on Friday night against their Western Big 6 rival Moline.
However, funeral services for Price’s mom were on Saturday and he,
most understandably, was unavailable for the visit from the Railers.
“Yes, we would certainly love to play a team at full strength but
they were not only playing without their top player, there was
certainly some emotion going on,” Lincoln coach Neil Alexander said
after the game. “Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with him,
it’s tough, you know there was a lot going on here tonight. In
everything, this here was just a basketball game, not really
But, alas, there was still a game. Again, it was the defense that
stood tall on Saturday night at the Rock Island Fieldhouse. After
the Rocks (12-9) grabbed an early 5-0 lead in the first two minutes
on a basket from Jamal Randle and a three from Ben Ellis, the
Railers finally found their shooting eye. Drew Bacon got Lincoln on
the board with a three from the left corner before Isaiah Bowers
tied the game with a pair of free throws. The run continued on a
driving layup from Titus Cannon and a score from Bowers. The lead
continued to grow when Ben Grunder floated a perfect alley-oop pass
to Jermaine Hamlin for a two-handed dunk. A Grunder steal resulted
in an easy score for Cannon as Lincoln claimed a 13-5 lead after the
first. Over the past few games, Cannon has shown a little bit more
offensive success, a move that might be related to the defense.
“When we moved Tate (Sloan) to the point of the defense at different
times, it gave us a different energy and it also gave Titus a bit of
a break,” Alexander said. “Playing the point on our defense is no
easy thing, it’s hard. Titus has taken advantage and seemed rested
and it has shown when he has the ball.”
Hamlin continued his strong play, reaching double figures again with
12 points. His free throws starting the second quarter extended the
run to 15-0 and gave Lincoln their first double digit lead at 15-5.
Rock Island’s second 5-0 run cut the lead in half to 15-10, but
Cannon and Grunder took over in the second to pace the Railers.
After Hamlin saved the possession with his hustle, Cannon drained
his fifth three of the weekend. Grunder followed up with an
acrobatic one-armed offensive rebound and putback while being
fouled. His three-point play pushed the lead to 21-10. Showing his
flexibility, Grunder found an opening at the top of the key and hit
a three to give Lincoln a 24-12 lead.
[to top of second column]
The Railers held on to a 12-point advantage with a 26-14 halftime
lead. On Friday night, Rock Island turned up the intensity on Moline
out of halftime and that was something the Railers would need to be
wary of. The Rocks were able to cut the deficit to ten at 28-18
before Lincoln put to bed any notions that the Rocks were going to
duplicate their pressure from the Moline game.
Hamlin scored six during an 11-0 run that stretched the Lincoln lead
to 39-18. A basket from Bowers, who led the team with 13 points, and
another three from Grunder, put the Railers in control late in the
third. The offensive flow Lincoln showed in the first half was not
as crisp in the second but Lincoln was playing at a different level
than their opponents and it was becoming clear the Railers would get
Up 39-21 to start the fourth, the Railers used one more run to put
an exclamation point on the win. Bowers scored seven during a 9-0
run as the lead was at 24. Lincoln’s final points came on a three
from Isaac Dewberry.
The first half was definitely much better than the second. When Rock
Island did score in the second half, it was in a way the Railers
have struggled with before. “If there was one negative, it was how
easily they got the ball in the middle at the high post with Ellis,”
Alexander said. “We can’t allow that because teams can hurt us from
there and we just can’t allow the ball in there.”
As mentioned Bowers led the way with 13 points and Hamlin scored 12.
Cannon and Grunder chipped in with 9 points apiece while Bacon
scored five and Dewberry added three.
The Railers jump back into conference play this week with a pair of
games starting Tuesday against Mt. Zion. This is a Mt. Zion team the
Railers handled 44-30 in December, but the Braves are fresh off a
win over Mahomet-Seymour. It is not a team to be taken lightly and
full support from Railer Nation will be needed on Tuesday night. On
Friday, the Railers will travel to Effingham. Game time on Tuesday
is a normal 7:30pm tip for the varsity with the sophomores going at
6. The sophomore squad got a 66-55 win over Rock Island, closing the
game on a 25-15 run. Kameron Whiteman and Kaden Froebe each had 18
in the win.
Bowers 5 3-3 13, Hamlin 4 4-6 12, Cannon 4 0-0 9, Grunder 3 1-1 9,
Bacon 2 0-0 5, Dewberry 1 0-0 3, Sloan 0 0-0 0, Holliday 0 0-0 0,
Whiteman 0 0-0 0, Froebe 0 0-0 0, Ewald 0 0-0 0. TEAM 19 8-10 51.
3pt FG 5 (Grunder 2, Cannon, Bacon, Dewberry).
ROCK ISLAND (27)
Tucker, R 8, Ellis 7, Randle 4, Conner 3, Lewis 3, Gustafson 2. TEAM
11 1-2 27.
LCHS 13-13-13-12 51
ROCK ISLAND 5-9-7-6 27