Railers win, Lanphier looming in regional final

Send a link to a friend  Share

[March 01, 2018]  With March Madness, it’s a phrase you will most likely hear a few hundred times. “Survive and Advance.” Simply put, there are no style points at this point of the season. Just have one more point than your opponent and get the win. Survive and Advance. No matter the circumstances, no one is going to feel sorry for you at their own expense. How would be the best way to sum up Lincoln’s first game in this year’s tournament?

Survive and advance.

The Railers wrapped up a perfect February and ran their winning streak to twelve in a row but it certainly was not easy as Lincoln struggled for much of the game, finally coming out on top 40-26 over SHG. The win sets up a state ranked top 10 battle as Lincoln will see a very familiar foe on Friday night in the form of Springfield Lanphier. Needless to say, if Lincoln comes out with the effort and play against the Lions that was on display Wednesday night, Railer Nation will not being wearing a smile.

“They know all about that. The team knows what needs to be done on Friday,” Lincoln coach Neil Alexander said. “I mean, there is always the fear that playing a team that already has a game under the belt is going to come out a bit more relaxed. Maybe with this one, we can be ready on Friday. Because we will have to be ready for them.”

The one thing we might not have known about was what would be the spark on Wednesday night. When Lincoln sophomore Kameron Whiteman came off the bench with the Railers down 12-4 in the second quarter, it didn’t take long for him to make his mark on the contest. Whiteman, who hit two of his first three from long range, ended the night with 12 points on four three pointers as he kept the Railers afloat until the rest of the offense did enough to take control of the game. “He was definitely the big key tonight, he was the spark,” Alexander said. “We can’t guard him in practice and he gives us a different dimension. You saw that tonight.”

The biggest question mark going into the matchup with Lanphier is the availability of junior Jermaine Hamlin. With 3:53 left in the first half, Hamlin was undercut on his attempt to finish off a lob. Hamlin lost his balance and landed hard on his back and hip. As he was attended to by training staff, you could tell he was not feeling very good. It was a slow process getting him to just a sitting position and his walk off the court was methodical and uncomfortable looking. Hamlin did not return and his plans for Friday are up in the air. “It’s up to him on Friday night,” Alexander said. “If he’s ready to play through some soreness, we’ll see how it goes.”

A lot of things were going wrong for the Railers in the first half, a half in which Lincoln shot just 4 of 21, didn’t grab any loose balls, watched most every rebound corralled by SHG, you name it, not the best half for Lincoln. It took only 15 seconds for Spencer Redd to put the Cyclones (14-17) on the board with a 15-footer. With one misstep after another, Lincoln finally got on the board after a steal and layup from Isaiah Bowers with 2:45 left in the quarter. A three from Charlie Hamilton gave SHG the 5-2 lead after the first quarter. Baskets from Hamilton and Jaden Snodgrass stretched the SHG advantage to 9-2 and concern started to grow for the Railers.

Finding nothing through any offensive sets, the Lincoln defense kept the third-seeded Railers close. Another steal led to a layup from Titus Cannon. Hamilton continued his sharpshooting with another three and a 12-4 lead. Enter Mr. Whiteman.

On a set play for the sophomore, Whiteman quickly contributed a three to cut the lead to 12-7. After the injury to Hamlin, Whiteman drained another to pull Lincoln with two. With just about a minute to go, Ben Grunder got the Railers even at 12 with a pair of free throws. Believe me, halftime could not come quick enough for Lincoln to regroup and try to advance to the regional final.

The second half saw Lincoln (25-5) get their first lead of the night just thirty seconds in as Bowers gave the Railers a 14-12 lead. After a SHG free throw, a basket from AJ Lust put the Cyclones back in the lead. Just like the first half, Whiteman was the answer to what was ailing Lincoln. His third three of the night gave the Railers a 17-15 lead before Bowers steal and layup pushed the margin to four and forced SHG to take a timeout. A four point lead doesn’t seem like much but in this game, it felt like forever.

 [to top of second column]

For SHG, their answer to Whiteman was Hamilton. The junior hit another three pointer to pull the Cyclones within one. Once again, Whiteman hit a three, a basket that would start a 13-0 run that would finally put SHG away. However, the rest of the thirteen would all be from the free throw line. In the stretch, Lincoln was 10 of 16 from the charity stripe. On the night, the Railers were 18 of 28, almost on par with their season performance of 65 percent. All of Railer Nation knows that if Lincoln hopes to get by Lanphier on Friday, those are points they can not leave on the floor.

SHG would not give in until late in the fourth as they kept fouling, hoping the Railers would falter enough to keep the Cyclones in the contest. However, the season for SHG would end while the Railers move on. And waiting on Friday, the Lanphier Lions, the same team that ended Lincoln’s season last year with an overtime win in the regional final at Lober-Nika Gymnasium, Lanphier’s home court. Friday, the battle will take place in Rochester. That doesn’t mean the intensity will be any less.

Over the years, Lincoln versus Lanphier on the marquee has suggested something special. A few years ago, two different battles of 1 vs 2. Ask my broadcast partner Josh Komnick about the three overtime game at Prairie Capital where the Railers came up short against the Lions in tournament play. There is reason to believe that when two of the top ten teams in the state get together that something special will happen. On Friday, the winner goes to Decatur for the sectional, the loser goes home.

Lincoln was led by Bowers and his 17 points while Whiteman came up huge with 12 points. Cannon and Grunder each added 4 with Tate Sloan scoring two and Drew Bacon adding a free throw.

Really not much more to say. Friday night, regional title on the line. Lincoln versus Lanphier. 7:00pm tip time at the Rochester Athletic Complex. Railer Nation, your mission is clear. Lanphier may be closer to Rochester, but when needed Railer Nation can take over and Friday night would be a great time for that.


Bowers 4 9-13 17, Whiteman 4 0-0 12, Cannon 1 2-5 4, Grunder 0 4-4 4, Sloan 0 2-2 2, Bacon 0 1-4 1, Hamlin 0 0-0 0, Dewberry 0 0-0 0. TEAM 9 18-28 40. 3pt Fg 4 (Whiteman 4).

SHG (26)

Hamilton 16, Redd 3, Broeker 3, Snodgrass 2, Lust 2. TEAM 9 4-6 26. 3pt Fg 4 (Hamilton 4).

LCHS 2-12-12-16 40
SHG 5-7-6-8 26

- Isaiah Bowers has moved into 9th on the all-time scoring list with 1295 points. He is also now in 2nd for games played with 126, trailing only Matt Schick with 132.
- The win gives Lincoln their 21st season of 25 wins or more while Coach Alexander has been at the helm for 13 of those.
- With the win, in related categories, Lincoln is now

o 2-2 when tied at the half
o 22-0 when they have more free throw attempts
o 10-1 when scoring 40-49 points
o 20-1 when holding opponents to under 40 points
o 2-0 on Wednesdays
o 9-0 in February
o 17-2 when making 4-6 threes in a game
o 14-3 while wearing the White uniforms
o 15-0 when there are two Railers in double figures
o 4-1 in neutral site games

[Jeff Benajmin]

Back to top