S. Anderson seemed to return to the Christmas season as the red and
green of LaSalle-Peru combined with the defenders of the home
court's normal colors to make fans do double-takes to make sure
which cheerleaders and fans belonged to which school.
What also returned was the shooting eye of the Railers. For the
first time since the win over Eisenhower at Collinsville, Lincoln
(13-2, 6-0) hit over half its shots, finishing at 57 percent (20 of
37). Of even more importance, the defense seemed to be back for most
of the game, a factor that contributed to the 22-point win.
The Cavaliers chose to be very deliberate during their first few
possessions, even taking an early 6-2 lead.
A basket and free throw from Kyle Young started the Railers on
one of their patented runs, stringing together 15 in a row to take a
17-6 lead. Lincoln also used a very balanced scoring attack to take
a 32-13 lead into intermission. Seven different players scored for
the Railers in the second quarter, while Lincoln finished the first
16 minutes shooting 68 percent (13 of 19) from the field, including
a blazing 71 percent from 3-point range.
The Cavaliers (8-10) certainly felt the fury of the Railer
defense, connecting on only 39 percent from the field in the half.
With the memory fresh that Lincoln almost blew a 16-point lead the
night before, the opening 3 of the half from the Cavaliers, pulling
to within 14, may have given Railer fans a moment of caution.
However, unlike Friday night, the Railers ran off 12 in a row to
put the game out of reach midway through the third. Seven of those
points came from senior Alex Anderson, who finished in double
figures for the first time this season, scoring 10.
Anderson's night did not get off to a good start, as he
mishandled a pass intended to free him for an open 3. He was quickly
pulled and found a seat next to coach Neil Alexander. A credit to
the senior, after some words of encouragement, Anderson was back in
the game, playing hard-nose defense and adding to the Railer
Lincoln was led in scoring by a solid 11-point effort from
sophomore Jordan Nelson. Nelson hit three of five from long range
and, more importantly to the overall offense, did not make a
In fact, the Railers held down their turnovers, making only 11
miscues while forcing LaSalle-Peru into 17. In the
points-off-turnovers battle, Lincoln had the advantage 20-5.
Nathaniel Smith, coming into the night averaging just shy of seven
points a game, added -- you guessed it -- seven points, while
grabbing three rebounds. Kyle Young also scored seven, along with
three assists and two rebounds. Young has averaged less than 10
points a game over the past five contests, but Lincoln has been able
to win all but the Althoff game at Collinsville.
Kyle Frick played a solid game, making all three of his shots to
finish with six. Louis Schonauer scored five points, along with a
team-high five assists, as well as four rebounds. Ben Brackney did
his part again, leading the Railers for the second night in a row
with five rebounds and also scoring five points.
All 14 of the Railers got in the game, with only three not scoring.
Wes Neece hit three free throws for his points on the night, while
Jordan Gesner and Cameron Turner each hit a 3 to set career highs.
Will Fisher got his two points by making his only free-throw
Offensively, the Railers seemed much crisper and willing to make
the extra pass to find the easier shot. In fact, of all the stats
from the game, the one that may tell the biggest story is that the
Railers had 19 assists on 20 field goals. As far as teamwork, that's
about as good as it gets.
For those who remember the old game show "To Tell the Truth," will
the real Lincoln Railers please stand up? Are the Railers who will
head into state tournament play in a little over a month and a half
the team that dominated SHG and LaSalle-Peru or the team that
struggled at home against Springfield and had to hang on for dear
life against Lanphier?
[to top of second column]
We may find out a little more this week as Lincoln plays five
games at the Meijer Winter Classic.
However, the next truest test may be at the end of the month as
the Railers travel to Southeast to take on the Spartans for the edge
in the battle for the Central State Eight. Sure, Southeast could,
and if history holds true, very well could, stub their toe in the
city tournament. But Railer fans remember, the same thing can happen
in Chatham this week. Each team is itching to play the other, but
one bad night could ruin a battle of conference unbeatens on this
month's final Friday. First things first, though, as the only game
to worry about will be against Alton on Monday.
The junior varsity for Lincoln was unable to hold on to their
halftime lead Saturday, falling 52-41 in the opening contest.
Lincoln will be back in action tonight as the Railers open the
2009 Meijer Winter Classic in Chatham by taking on the Alton
Redbirds in the opening game of the annual event. The contest will
tip at 5 p.m. and, as always, you can catch the game on WLCN-FM 96.3
and here at
LINCOLN (62) -- Nelson 4 0-0 11, Anderson 3 2-2 10, Smith 2 2-2
7, Young 3 1-1 7, Frick 3 0-0 6, Schonauer 2 0-0 5, Brackney 1 2-2
5, Gesner 1 0-0 3, Neece 0 3-4 3, Turner 1 0-0 3, Fisher 0 2-2 2,
Kirby 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 0-0 0, Coyne 0 0-0 0. Team 20 12-13 62.
3-point FG: Team 10 (Nelson 3, Anderson 2, Schonauer, Smith,
Brackney, Gesner, Turner).
LaSalle-Peru (40) -- Gatza 12, Kurkowski 4, Christopherson 3,
Bergagna 3, Bernal 3, Pezanoski 3, Meyer 3, Kristensen 2, Moore 2,
Swingel 2, Breidenbach 2, Olivero 1.
End of first quarter -- LCHS 12, LaSalle-Peru 6
Halftime -- LCHS 32, LaSalle-Peru 15
End of third quarter -- LCHS 49, LaSalle-Peru 22
Other Railer notes:
In the last three games, the Railers have given up 69 points in
the fourth quarter alone.
The win was No. 1,550 in the history of Lincoln High School
After shooting only 66 percent from the free-throw line over the
past four games, the Railers were vastly improved, hitting 12 of 13.
The Railers have three players hitting over 80 percent of their
free throws over their careers (Nathaniel Smith 91, Jordan Nelson 90
and Ben Brackney 80).
This is the third game in a row and the fourth time this season
that the Railers have made exactly 20 field goals in a game.
The seven 3-pointers made ties the season high for a Railer
[Special report by JEFF BENJAMIN]