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

Nelson injured in 36-34 win over Jacksonville

Send a link to a friend

[February 04, 2010]  JACKSONVILLE -- Despite playing the second half without their leading scorer, due to injury, the Lincoln Railers were able to put together just enough clutch free-throw shooting and last-second defense to come from behind and defeat Jacksonville 36-34. The win improves the Railer record to 16-2 on the season, 6-1 in Central State Eight play.

InsuranceSenior Ben Brackney's two free throws with 11 seconds remaining provided the final margin, but not before the Railer defense blocked two shots in the lane and hung on to watch the Crimsons' final shot from the baseline hit the near side of the rim, bounce high and fall off.

The biggest play of the night came with 30 seconds left in the first half, when junior guard Jordan Nelson, who came in averaging a team-best 19.8 points per game, tried to take a charge in the lane. Nelson went down hard on his back and immediately rolled over in obvious pain.


As trainers quickly attended to him, Nelson began pushing himself along the ground, trying to find a comfortable position that was nowhere to be found. After getting to his feet and gingerly walking to the bench, Nelson continued to talk with the training staff.

As his teammates went to the locker room up two, Nelson needed assistance to join the Railer squad, seemingly favoring his left foot.

As both teams emerged for second-half warmups, it was apparent Nelson was not going to be ready to go. As the third quarter started, Nelson slowly made his way to the sidelines at the end of the Railer bench.

He appeared in obvious discomfort, with an ice bag at his lower back on the left side. On a couple of occasions, Nelson got up and walked around, trying to find any way to get more comfortable, but that just did not happen.

“He's certainly very questionable for tomorrow (Tuesday) night,” a cautious coach Neil Alexander said. “We think it might be a hip-pointer, but I'm sure his parents will get him checked out tomorrow and we'll see what they find out. I don't know when he'll be back, so we just have to play with the ones we have.”

The 2010 Meijer Winter Classic got off to just the start Lincoln wanted. After a Jacksonville 3, Brackney and Nelson combined for five points to give the Railers their first lead. After another from long range, Lincoln went on a 12-0 run to end the first quarter with a 17-6 advantage.

But then there's that second quarter. For the past few games, the second quarter has seen the Railers shoot poorly, turn the ball over and appear to relax, thanks to the double-digit lead. Monday night was no exception. After a Brackney free throw put Lincoln up 18-8, Jacksonville went on their own 10-point run to tie the game at 18.

All this happened prior to the Nelson injury. Once play resumed at the half-minute mark, Jacksonville had a chance to take the lead, but another turnover gave the Railers the opportunity. Saturday night's leading scorer, junior Nathaniel Smith, hit a driving layup down the left side of the lane to give Lincoln the 20-18 lead at the break.

Knowing that Nelson would not return, the senior Brackney tried to take the lead. Brackney, now just two points shy of 1,000 in his career, hit a 3 early to push Lincoln's lead to five.

Jacksonville came back with their own run of five to tie the game at 23. A free throw from Smith gave the lead back to Lincoln, but a Crimson basket put Jacksonville in front for the first time since 6-5. Brackney hit another 3 for the Railers, but Jacksonville tied it to send the game to the fourth quarter knotted at 27.

The Crimsons took their largest lead of the night with a quick four. Now down 31-27, and without their leading scorer, the Railers would dig deep to get back into the contest. Brackney hit his fourth 3 of the night to pull Lincoln within one.

Showing that this team is not just Nelson, Brackney and Smith, Lincoln got the lead back late, thanks to a 14-foot turnaround jumper in the lane from junior Brant Coyne, his only points of the night.

After a Jacksonville miss and turnover, the Railers looked prepared to run the clock down as far as possible. With 45 seconds to go, the ball ended up with senior Reuben Bowlby, who was fouled. Bowlby stepped to the line and hit two of the most pressure-packed free throws of the season to push the lead to three at 34-31.

The Crimsons quickly came downcourt and drew even on a long 3 from Nick Lonergan, a play on which a foul could have been whistled to give Jacksonville a chance to take the lead back.

As time would wind down, Brackney drove the lane and was fouled with 11 seconds to go. Due to some confusion at the mechanics of the official, it appeared he had counted the basket.

The confusion went as far as the scoreboard operator giving Lincoln the two points. After they were removed, Brackney stepped to the line and sank both free throws for the final margin of 36-34.

[to top of second column]

Those last 11 seconds were not without the excitement, but as coach Alexander said in his postgame comments, "I told the guys we were going to win this one with defense, and we certainly did." Jacksonville's first attempt was blocked away as was the second. Their final chance came as they inbounded with two seconds to go and their final shot fell short.

And now exhale.

With no disrespect to his offense, you forget just how important Nelson is to this team defensively as he plays the point on the Railer zone. However, without him, the game had to go on, and Alexander had nothing but high praise for the person pegged to fill that role, at least for Monday night: Cameron Turner. "I thought Cameron played outstanding," Alexander said. "He was up on them, in their face, pushing them from one side to the other. I really think he played tremendously tonight."

The clutch free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter came on the heels of Lincoln going just 2 of 6 in the first three quarters. But, when it counted, Bowlby and Brackney came through.

The Railers were led by Brackney's 19 points. Before his injury, Nelson added eight, Smith finished with five, while Coyne and Bowlby chipped in with two each.

The next contest is Tuesday night against Taylorville, a team Lincoln defeated earlier this season 58-34. The Tornadoes had a chance at their first win of the season against Highland. Up 45-41 with the ball, Taylorville gave up a 19-0 run to fall 60-45.

As always, we invite you to check back for the latest on the Railers at



Brackney 6 3-4 19, Nelson 3 0-0 8, Smith 2 1-2 5, Coyne 1 0-0 2, Bowlby 0 2-2 2, Kirby 0 0-0 0, Turner 0 0-0 0. Team 12 6-10 36. 3-point field goals 6 (Brackney 4, Nelson 2).

Jacksonville (34)

N. Lonergan 14, Burgess 9, Williams 4, Keene 3, Berry 2, J. Lonergan 2. Team 14 2-5 34. 3-point field goals 4 (N. Lonergan 3, Keene).

Jacksonville 6-12-9-7
Lincoln 17-3-7-9

Other notes:

  • After scoring 17 points in the first quarter, the Railers were held to 19 over the final three quarters.

  • Ben Brackney is now seventh all-time in 3s made with 138, four behind Cory Farmer in sixth.

  • Before his injury, Jordan Nelson (1,031) moved into 13th on the all-time scoring list, passing Dave Cadwallader.

  • After allowing 71 points on Jan. 8 to Lanphier, Lincoln has held their last four opponents to 41 points or less.

[Special report by JEFF BENJAMIN]

< Sports index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor