quarter starts doom Railers in overtime
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[January 23, 2018]
It’s always nice for a team to
get off to a good start in each quarter, a chance to set the tone
for the rest of the period, forcing the other team to play catch up
often. On Saturday night, the Washington Panthers excelled in
putting the Lincoln Railers behind the eight ball in the first and
second quarters as well as overtime to hand the Railers a 61-52 loss
in the first game of the Central Illinois Mid-Winter Classic.
The Washington runs at the beginning of each of the referenced
periods totaled 33-0 including a 14-0 run to start overtime, leaving
the Railers shaking their heads at the second straight overtime
loss. Even though Lincoln was able to battle back from down 16, even
taking the lead for a moment in the fourth, Washington did enough
right to take the win. The 7-10 record Washington came into the game
with was certainly not representative of the game they would play
and the Railers suffered too many droughts to come away with the
“This is what can happen when you don’t practice hard,” a
disappointed Lincoln coach Neil Alexander said after the game. “I
don’t think we came out ready to play and you’ve got to practice
hard so you can play hard. We have to play and practice with more
This was certainly a game of runs, of which Washington had more at
the critical points of the game. Lincoln needed a 20-3 run to take
their only lead of the game at 40-39 but may have used all their
energy in doing so because by the time overtime rolled around, it
was Washington with the energy and advantage.
Lincoln’s Ben Grunder did what he could to keep the Railers in the
contest, but a total team effort from the Panthers gave them the
nine-point win. Grunder got the Railers on the board with 2:55 left
in the first quarter on a conventional three-point play but only
after Washington had jumped out to a 7-0 lead. The second three of
the quarter from Washington’s Adrian Ware pushed the lead back to
10-5 before a basket from Jermaine Hamlin cut the lead back to
three. Ball handling issues plagued the Panthers late in the quarter
allowing the Railers to climb back into the contest and Isaiah
Bowers took advantage with a three from the left corner in the
waning seconds of the quarter to knot the game at 10. As sudden as
the Panthers had jumped out to the lead, being tied after the first
seemed like a win.
Another quarter starting spurt put the Railers behind again as
Washington ran off a quick ten points. When Ware’s third three went
down, Alexander was forced to call a timeout with 4:11 to go and his
Railers down 20-10. After another Washington score, it was Grunder
again to stop the run with a basket at the 1:32 mark. Grunder
continued his scoring to cut the margin to eight at 22-14 but as
Lincoln’s luck had been going, Ware struck one more time, this time
as the first half clock was expiring. Ware threw one in from just in
front of the volleyball line to give the Panthers the 25-14 halftime
With more focus being placed on the whereabouts of Ware, Washington
turned to the long range shooting of Devon Vanderheydt. The freshman
hit his first two attempts from behind the arc to keep Lincoln at
bay 31-17, Lincoln’s points coming from a three from Grunder.
Grunder’s second three pulled Lincoln within 33-20 before Adrian
Williams converted an offensive rebound into a three-point play.
Williams may not have been the Panthers’ top scorer but may have
been the difference on Saturday with his 12 points, 14 rebounds, and
7 assists. Combine that with having the task of guarding and
stopping Bowers, who he held to seven points, Williams was a true
If the Railers were going to have any chance of making a game of it,
they too would need a difference maker. Luckily, they found one but
not where you would expect. Senior Tate Sloan would be the spark to
lead the comeback. With Lincoln down 36-20, Sloan started the
comeback with an easy score off an out of bounds play. A turnover by
Washington turned into a one on five break where Bowers found a seam
and the score. With Sloan leading at the point of the defense,
another steal turned into another layup for Sloan and Lincoln was
down just 36-26.
After another steal, Sloan found himself wide open near the left
wing. Most would drive to the basket but this team needed a big shot
and Sloan delivered with a three that brought Lincoln with seven.
Lincoln had turned up the pressure but overplayed on the next
possession as the defense did not rotate to find an open J.J. Guedet
who scored from point blank range to stretch the lead back to 38-29.
It was only fitting that one more steal led to another Sloan basket
and the Railers had all the momentum heading into the fourth down
[to top of second column]
Lincoln (13-5) was the team to have the hot start at the beginning
of a quarter as Hamlin threw down a huge dunk before a steal and
layup from Bowers brought the contest to a one possession game at
38-35. A free throw from Guedet slowed the run, but did not stop it.
Grunder sank a pair of free throws before he drained a three at the
4:29 mark as the Railers had completed the comeback to take their
first and only lead of the evening. Guedet was heard from again as
his basket gave the lead back to Washington and Williams sank a pair
of free throws to push the lead back to three at 43-40.
For much of the night, Washington’s Guedet played his defense right
in the middle of the lane, allowing the player he was guarding to
roam free and not be guarded. In most cases that player was Drew
Bacon. The senior made the Panthers pay when he tied the game with a
three at the 1:18 point of the fourth. Washington had their chance
to win the game in regulation but Ware missed the front end of a one
and one with 42 seconds to go, giving Lincoln a chance to get a big
win at home.
After a timeout at 13 seconds, Lincoln ran a play with Grunder
taking a baseline jumper that missed the mark and sent the game into
overtime. And overtime belonged to Washington.
Scoring the most points of any period on Saturday, the Panthers
outscored Lincoln 18-9, including a 14-0 to put the game out of
reach quickly in the extra session. Washington won the opening tip
and quickly got the ball to Ware, who sank a 15-footer within the
first ten seconds of overtime. Whether it was turnovers or missed
shots, it felt as though Lincoln had used all they had to make the
comeback while Washington found an extra gear in overtime. Ware
scored 10 of his team-high 22 points in overtime after being held
scoreless in the second half. By the time Lincoln got their first
points on a basket from Grunder with a little over a minute left, it
was clear this one was going in the loss column.
Washington did have a decided advantage at the free throw line,
hitting on 15 of 21 while the Railers only had five free throws, all
by Grunder. Alexander noted there were some calls he wasn’t pleased
with but “we didn’t give the officials any reason to give us any
An area of concern to keep an eye on is how the Railers handle close
games. This season, in games decided by ten or fewer points, Lincoln
is only 2-5. It is a pattern that must get reversed because we all
know that tournament time is just around the corner and close games
can certainly be the norm.
Lincoln was led by career highs from Grunder with his 24 and Sloan’s
nine points. All of Sloan’s came in a short window in the third
quarter. Bowers finished with seven points while Bacon added six,
Hamlin scored four and Dewberry chipped in with two.
A busy week is on deck for the Railers with three games on the
schedule starting with a road tilt in Canton on Tuesday night as
part of the Mid-Winter Classic. Lincoln will also travel to Mahomet
on Friday before coming back home Saturday to host Morton. The
Canton game is set to tip off at 7pm. This is not a make or break
week for the Railers and the direction of the season but it is
close. A win at Canton to start the week will hopefully get the
Railers ready for a tough weekend. The season is quickly winding
down as Senior Night is less than five weeks away and the seeds will
be announced shortly after Valentine’s Day not to mention there are
only four home games left.
Grunder 8 4-5 24, Sloan 4 0-0 9, Bowers 3 0-0 7, Bacon 2 0-0 6,
Hamlin 2 0-0 4, Dewberry 1 0-0 2, Cannon 0 0-0 0, Holliday 0 0-0 0.
TEAM 20 4-5 52. 3pt FG 8 (Grunder 4, Bacon 2, Sloan, Bowers).
Ware 22, Guedet 13, Williams 12, Vanderheydt 8, Mount 3, Butler 3.
TEAM 19 15-21 61. 3pt FG 8 (Ware 5, Vanderheydt 2, Mount).
LCHS 10-4-17-12-9 52
WASHINGTON 10-15-13-5-16 61
[by Jeff Benjamin]