There 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
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
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."
[to top of second column]
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 www.lincolndailynews.com.
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
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).
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,
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
all-time with 3 made. Next up is Josh Komnick in seventh with 134
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]