Thursday, February 04, 2010
Sports NewsMayfield's Mutterings: Illini still in the hunt?

Railer defense solid in 50-33 win over SHG

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[February 04, 2010]  SPRINGFIELD -- Going into Friday night's contest at Jim Belz Gymnasium, many thought that a lot of big numbers from 3-point range would be put up. There was the possibility, with both teams emphasizing the 3-point shot in their offense, that some records could fall.

HardwareThere were no records on this night, just another solid defensive effort from the Railers on their way to a 50-33 win over the host Cyclones to move to 5-1 in conference play.

The defense on this Friday night was a far cry from seven days ago. The Railers allowed 71 points in a win at Lanphier. On that night, the Lions hit 33 (SHG's total for the night) early in the third quarter. This Railer defense was more like the one on display last Saturday in Centralia, when Lincoln held the Orphans to only 27 points.


As the game started, it appeared to be one of those games that Railer fans could sit back and enjoy comfortably. Lincoln (14-2, 5-1) jumped out to an early 8-2 as Jordan Nelson, Austin Kirby and Ben Brackney all connected on their first shot. The Railers got a reverse layup from junior Nathaniel Smith and two free throws from Brackney to take a 12-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Unfortunately, the offense disappeared in the second quarter. It was not so much the defensive efforts of the Cyclones (7-8, 1-5) but a lack of good decision-making on the part of the Railers, especially when it came to shot selection.

After SHG had drawn to within 12-8, a Brant Coyne basket moved the Lincoln lead back to six. Three quick SHG baskets forced Lincoln coach Neil Alexander to take a timeout to calm his team down as the Cyclones tied the game at 14.

The only other field goal for the Railers came from Nelson with under 10 seconds to go in the half, allowing Lincoln to take a slim 16-14 lead into halftime.

Wherever the offense was, it showed up again in the third quarter with much better flow and spacing. During a few trips into their offensive end, the Railers appeared to focus more on Coyne, Smith and Kirby, while Brackney and Nelson drew their defenders near the sidelines and away from the basket.

Easily, whatever adjustments were made by the coaching staff worked as Lincoln went on a 13-5 run to start the third quarter. Four of the five field goals in the quarter came from behind the arc, none more meaningful than the last one.

As SHG trailed 30-22, the Cyclones missed a shot with less than five seconds to go. Smith grabbed the rebound, dribbled upcourt and found a wide-open Nelson on the right wing in front of the Railers' bench. Nelson's shot found nothing but net as the quarter ended, giving the junior 10 points at that point. The shot also moved Nelson over the 1,000-point mark for his career.

The Railers continued to pull away in the fourth quarter, but not from behind the 3-point line. The first six Lincoln points came on free throws from Smith and two easy inside shots from Reuben Bowlby, who continues to improve after injuring his ankle during the second game of the Collinsville tournament.

Nelson completed an old-fashioned three-point play, while Brackney's basket and free throws extended Lincoln's lead to its high point of the night, 46-25. From there, the teams traded baskets, but from the later stages of the third quarter, the game was not in doubt.

So, after giving up 71 points in one game, and then 60 over the course of the next two, coach Alexander focused on that improving defense. "I thought all the kids, every one of them, played really well on the defensive end," Alexander said. "Our effort tonight was very good."

According to the unofficial numbers, SHG was 5 of 26 shooting 3s, while Lincoln was 6 of 17. Certainly not the calculator-melting totals thought to be a possibility, but the Railers knew coming in they would have to stop the 3-point shot. "I thought our kids did a good job of locating their shooters and not giving good looks," Alexander said. "There were good traps and double teams, just a good job keeping their shooters off balance."

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The Railers had nice, balanced scoring as Nelson led the way with 14, joined in double figures by Brackney with 12. Coyne played a real good floor game, on both ends, and finished with eight. Smith and Kirby added six, while Bowlby scored his four in the fourth quarter. Lincoln continued their fine free-throw shooting, hitting on 80 percent (12 of 15) for the game.

The Railers are back in action on Saturday night, hosting Roselle's Lake Park High School. It will be the first chance at home for the Railer fans to acknowledge coach Neil Alexander passing the 600-win mark. It will be also be the final tuneup for next week's Meijer Winter Classic in Chatham.

The Railers' schedule at Chatham is listed below. As always, whether it's in Lincoln, Springfield, Chatham or anywhere else, you know you can find out the latest on the Railers here at

Other scores from the Central State Eight had Lanphier squeaking by Jacksonville 56-54, Springfield staying perfect in the conference with a win over Glenwood 47-35, and Southeast having no trouble with Taylorville 62-15.



Nelson 5 2-3 14, Brackney 3 4-4 12, Coyne 3 2-2 8, Smith 1 4-6 6, Kirby 2 0-0 6, Bowlby 2 0-0 4, Van Hook 0 0-0 0, Gesner 0 0-0 0, Turner 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 0-0 0. Team 16 12-15 50. 3-point field goals 6 (Nelson 2, Kirby 2, Brackney 2).

SHG (33)

Sergent 12, Jachino 7, Hubbard 4, Boggs 3, Albert 3, Reavy 2, Holmes 2. Team 12 4-6 33. 3-point field goals 5 (Sergent 2, Jachino, Boggs, Albert).

Lincoln 12-4-17-17
SHG 3-14-8-11

Other notes:

  • Not only has Jordan Nelson passed the 1,000-point mark, he is now only six points behind Jason Osborn for 15th on the all-time points-scored list.

  • Ben Brackney has made multiple 3s in 12 straight games. Brackney (133) has also passed David Pickering (132) for eighth all-time with 3 made. Next up is Josh Komnick in seventh with 134 made.

  • The three points given up in the first quarter marked the best defensive quarter for the Railers this season.

  • Meijer Winter Classic schedule (all games at Chatham):

    • Monday, Jan. 18, 7:45 p.m. -- vs. Jacksonville

    • Tuesday, Jan. 19, 7:45 p.m. -- vs. Taylorville

    • Friday, Jan. 22, 7:45 p.m. -- vs. Glenwood

    • Saturday, Jan. 23, 2:45 p.m. -- vs. Highland

[Special report by JEFF BENJAMIN]

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