Railers defeat Mattoon 40-35
~ Coach Neil Alexander reaches career win no. 900

Send a link to a friend  Share

[January 29, 2022] The Lincoln Railers traveled to Mattoon on Friday night and with the 40-35 win over the Green Wave, Coach Neil Alexander earned his 900th career win, moving him into second place on the all-time list in Illinois basketball history. 


Elijah Pollice opened the scoring in the game with a three for Lincoln. After the score was tied 3-3, the Railers went on a 6-0 run to finish the scoring in the first quarter. The big basket during that run was from Payton Cook, the junior stepped outside to swish a three for Lincoln. With the first eight minutes complete, the Railers held a 9-3 advantage.


Jake Bivin and Aidan Gowin hit back-to-back threes for Lincoln in the second quarter, guiding the team to a 16-5 lead. Lincoln was lights out from behind the arc, and a three from Tyler Sasse would put the Railers up 21-11. Just before halftime, it would be Sasse again from long range. He made a three right at the buzzer to put Lincoln up 24-13 at the half.


The Green Wave staged a comeback in the third quarter and with Lincoln experiencing some cold shooting, the Railers found themselves holding on to a slim 30-29 lead at the end of the third.


The Green Wave would sink a three and take a 32-30 lead as the fourth quarter got underway. A free throw later and the Green Wave led 33-30 over Lincoln. Lincoln would not score until the 4:55 mark. Gowin’s layup moved the Railers closer. After a steal by Pollice and the pass to Gowin, Gowin would draw the foul in the paint and he would go to the free throw to sink both shots and finally put Lincoln back in front, 34-33 the score. Although with the home crowd really behind their Green Wave, they took a 35-34 lead late in the game. Lincoln was in the middle of a “can’t buy a basket” stretch and for a moment it looked pretty grim. Pollice came up huge for Lincoln in the final minute. First his jumper gave Lincoln a 36-35 lead. Seconds later, he was at the free throw line to shoot two and pad the lead, 38-35. And then with the Green Wave trying to bring the ball up the court, Pollice intercepted the pass and quickly headed to the Railers basket for the layup. Six quick points by the senior put Lincoln in front 40-35 and with time running out on the Green Wave, Lincoln escaped with a win! 


Coach Neil Alexander flashed a smile as he looked into the crowd, acknowledging the standing ovation by the Lincoln fans for having just reached 900 career wins. 



[to top of second column]

Alexander was presented the game ball by the Green Wave, as it was announced over the PA system that he had just earned win no. 900 in his career. Assistant Coach Gregg Alexander gave his dad a hug and the Railers all stepped up with hugs and high-fives to congratulate the legendary coach. 


Congratulations to Coach AL!


Note: Gene Pingatore of St. Joseph sits at no. 1 on the IHSA Boys Basketball All-Time list for winningest coaches. Pingatore finished his career in 2016 with 987 career wins. 


Back to the game, Lincoln’s Elijah Pollice led the Railers with 11 points.


Lincoln improved to 18-4 on the season. 


In the JV game, the Railers won 50-28 over the Green Wave. Ki’on Carson poured in 16 points and Trey Schilling tossed in 15 points.


The Railers will play at Decatur Eisenhower tonight. The JV game will start at 5 p.m. The Varsity is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.


Varsity scoring 



Lincoln 40


Pollice 11

Gowin 8

Bivin 8

Cook 7

Sasse 6


Mattoon 35


Bergstrom 11

Larson 8

Wetzel 8

Bradbury 5

Middleton 2

Grace 1


JV scoring


Lincoln 50


Ki’on Carson 16

Schilling 15

Hayes 8

Ka’ni Carson 7

Evers 2

Toft 2


Mattoon 28


Hawkins 8

Wetzel 6

Smith 6

Jean 3

Helms 3

Kirts 2

[Teena Lowery]

Back to top