Saturday, February 18, 2012
Sports News

Glenwood ends Railer win streak

By Jeff Benjamin

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[February 18, 2012]  On Friday night, the Glenwood Titans must have felt a slight case of déjà vu. Last week, they had an opportunity to knock off top-ranked Lanphier, but their last-second shot fell short and the Lions survived. Last night, it was the Titans holding their breath as Lincoln freshman Gavin Block's 3-pointer missed as time expired, allowing Glenwood to escape Roy S. Anderson Gymnasium with a 30-29 victory over the Railers.

HardwareIn a game that saw both teams combining to score only 13 points in the first half, the contest came down to critical free-throw shooting, which, for the second time this season when these teams have gotten together, fell to Glenwood's favor.

The Railers started an eight-day stretch in which they will take on two of the top seven teams in Class 3A. The Titans, improving to 24-4 with the win, came in at No. 7 and jumped out to an early 5-0 lead on a 3 from sophomore Peyton Allen and a fast-break lay-in from Tyler Thurston. It looked as though it could be a shutout quarter for the Railers until Christian Van Hook's basket went through with 27 seconds to go in the quarter. It was the second positive thing to happen in about 10 seconds, as Allen had just gone to the bench, picking up two early fouls. There is a lot of familiarity between these two teams, already playing twice this season. Combine that with poor shooting and you end up with a 5-2 score at the end of a quarter.

However, as hard to believe as it may be, there was less scoring in the second quarter. Van Hook tied the game with a 3, but that was quickly answered by a 3 from the left wing by Miles McAdams. It seemed the offense was starting to open up, but that was not the case. The halftime score of 8-5 set a number of marks in the Railer campaign. The five points represents the lowest half of the season for Lincoln, while defensively the eight points scored by the Titans equaled the best performance from the Railers, last achieved against Highland. I suppose scoring like this is bound to happen with the squads hitting only five of the 28 shots taken between them.

Early in the third quarter, Max Cook tied the game with a 3-pointer, and it was almost another three minutes before either team scored. When senior Jordan Gesner's first of his four 3s of the night went through roughly halfway through the quarter, the Railers had their first and largest lead of the evening at 11-8. Glenwood's Allen stepped up for his team and tied the game at 11 with a 3-pointer. His shot started the Titans on an 8-0 run, pushing their lead to 16-11. A five-point lead may not sound like much, but the way the offenses were performing, that could easily have been as good as a 15-point margin.

The Railers (14-14, 7-8) closed out the quarter strong on the feats of Gesner and Cook. Gesner hit another big 3, while Cook drove the baseline and banked in a shot on a difficult angle while getting fouled. When the sophomore's free throw went down with 2.5 seconds to go in the third, Lincoln had grabbed the lead back at 17-16 and would hold that edge heading into the fourth quarter.

The contest was the third matchup between Lincoln and Glenwood. Last month, the Titans easily handled the Railers by 22 in Chatham, while a consolation title tilt at Collinsville saw Glenwood win by just seven. In the December contest, the story of the game was the free-throw shooting by Glenwood in the fourth quarter. The Titans hit 18 of their 23 free throws in that game. It was about to repeat itself on Friday night.

A three-point play by sophomore Daniel Helm put Glenwood on top to stay at 19-17. On the play, the Railers' Edward Bowlby had the rebound but had it stripped, then grabbed by Helm for the basket. The next segment of the game came straight from the Peyton Allen free-throw clinic. The leading scorer for Glenwood (24-4, 13-2) hit both free throws to give the Titans a four-point lead. The foul at one second shy of the six-minute mark put Glenwood in the bonus. Gesner continued his outside shooting to bring Lincoln within one with his third 3 of the night. After a Glenwood miss, the Railers had a chance to tie, and possibly take the lead with 4:33 left, but the front end of the one-and-bonus was missed by Van Hook, keeping the score 21-20 in favor of the visitors. Moments later, Van Hook missed another front end and began a critical 30-second span of game time when he picked up his fourth foul at the 3:58 juncture. His foul sent Allen to the line, who continued his flawless free-throw shooting.

Down 23-20, another missed shot by the Railers found its way to Allen, who this time was fouled by Gesner, picking up his fourth foul with 3:28 remaining. Allen came up big by hitting his fifth and sixth straight free throws, expanding the Glenwood lead to 25-20. The lead for Glenwood grew to its largest when Helm connected down low, and the advantage had grown to seven with less than three minutes to go.

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Coming into the game, the Railers were 0-8 in games decided by less than nine points. These are the types of games the Railers would find ways to stay close but had not yet learned how to win. Would tonight be different? Coach Neil Alexander's squad was not going to go down without a fight. The fourth 3 of the night from Gesner brought Lincoln to within 27-23. With Gesner bombing from outside, it was left up to Cook to drive and score on the inside, and when Cook scored on a driving layup with 2:11 left, his free throw after being fouled pulled Lincoln back within one.

The biggest shot of the night may have come from Allen, who came down and calmly went up and drained a 3-pointer to give Glenwood their final points of the night. On the evening, the sophomore collected half of his team's points. With the youth being served on both sides, it seemed fitting that Block answered on the next possession with his only points of the night, a 3 from just to the left of the top of the key, bringing the Railers within one at 30-29 with 1:40 left in the contest.

Glenwood attempted to play keep away as the seconds dwindled down. After Block came through on the offensive end, he made a stand by getting knocked down. The freshman stepped in to draw a charge from Helm, disallowing a Glenwood basket with 47 seconds to go, giving Lincoln a final chance. It was a chance that was almost thrown away. When Cook was dribbling near the right wing, he made a move and left his feet, looking to make a pass. Unfortunately, no one in white was available and, to avoid the travel, Cook tossed the ball into the lane, where it was taken by Glenwood. However, the Railers were able to knock the ball loose and recover, getting one more shot.

As the Railers moved the ball around the perimeter, the possible game-winner came from the side by Will Podbelsek. The junior's shot was off-target, and Helm was fouled as he grabbed the rebound with 4.5 seconds left. Even if Helm were to make both free throws, the Railers would have a final attempt. When Helm missed both free throws, Cook grabbed the rebound and dribbled through traffic before dishing over to Block as he crossed the timeline. Moments later, Block's attempt to win the game veered off-line and Glenwood survived by one.

"It was the shot we wanted to get," Alexander said about Block's attempt. "We were about two inches away from winning a basketball game."

It was a good basketball game, even with only 13 points in the first half. The shooting? Well, maybe not so good. Lincoln finished 10 of 40 for the game, including 7 of 29 from 3-point range. The biggest, and most telling, stat of the night was the free-throw shooting. As in the win from Collinsville, Glenwood put this one into the win column from 15 feet away. The Titans ended 8 of 10, including 7 of 9 in the fourth quarter. As for the Railers, the line was their Achilles' heel, missing half their four free throws, including two bonus front ends.

The Railers were led by Gesner's 12 points, with Cook adding nine. With only 29 points, there aren't too many in the scoring column, as the only other Railers to score were Van Hook with five, all in the first half, and Block's three points.

Unless the Railers can advance to the final four of the state, Saturday will be their final weekend game of the season as they travel to Moline to take on the Maroons. The varsity contest is scheduled to tip at 7:30, with the sophomores getting action under way at 6.



Gesner 4 0-0 12, Cook 3 2-2 9, Van Hook 2 0-2 5, Block 1 0-0 3, Kirby 0 0-0 0, Olson 0 0-0 0, Bowlby 0 0-0 0, Podbelsek 0 0-0 0. Team 10 2-4 29. 3-point field goals 7 (Gesner 4, Cook, Van Hook, Block)


Allen 15, Helm 7, Fuchs 3, McAdams 3, Sharp 2. Team 9 8-10 30. 3-point field goals 4 (Allen 3, McAdams).

Scoring by quarters:

LCHS  2-3-12-12 29
GHS    5-3- 8-14 30


Jeff Benjamin's Railer basketball articles

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