Railer boys basketball team loses to Althoff at the end of game, 37-35

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[November 25, 2023]  Lincoln – There’s a popular saying in sports that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

Stunned fans who watched the end of the Railer boys basketball game against Belleville Althoff on Friday night could certainly relate to that statement, as Lincoln started the game strong but was shocked at the conclusion. Lincoln initially seemed to be turning around its recent shooting woes but eventually fell to Althoff 37-35 in a game with a surprise finish that felt it could’ve been scripted by Rod Serling.

The Railers trailed 35-33 with less than a minute remaining in the contest. Althoff tried to pass the ball inbounds from midcourt but Lincoln’s Aidan Gowin intercepted the pass and took it in for a game-tying layup to knot the score at 35-35 with 33 seconds remaining.

Belleville Althoff advanced the ball upcourt quickly but Charleston Coldon had his layup blocked by Frank Sanders. After several put-back attempts and neither team able to secure the ball, Ki’on Carson fouled DaMichael Jackson to stop the clock with eight seconds left.

Following a timeout, Althoff’s Dierre Hill Jr. shot a jumper from just inside the three-point arc that fell short. Colton snared the errant shot and made an acrobatic shot from under the basket to give Althoff the lead.

As the ball fell through the net, Lincoln signaled for a time out, but none was granted. The final horn sounded, and it appeared for a moment that the referees were moving away from the players and benches to confer about the situation. Instead, the trio continued off the court, through the doorway and to their dressing room, signifying that no discussion of putting time back on the clock was going to take place. As Railer head coach stood in front of Lincoln’s bench with his arms outstretched as if to signal confusion, the game was over, and Althoff escaped with a 37-35 win.

As tempting as it may have been to blame the loss on the controversial end of the game, after the contest Alexander acknowledged that his team’s 19 turnovers put Lincoln in a hole.

“They [Althoff] were much quicker than we were and quicker to the ball,” Alexander said. "We didn’t come up with any loose balls and couldn’t get a rebound. They were very quick and very athletic, and tonight they were much better than we were.”

While Althoff’s athleticism impacted Lincoln’s performance, Alexander said his team also has areas in which it needs to improve in order to be more competitive.

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“We did some things that were uncharacteristic,” he said. “We missed a couple layups here and there. We stopped [running] the backdoor cut. There’s just several things we didn’t do correctly, but it’s the third game of the year and we’ll work on it to get better.”

Drew Hayes led Lincoln with 12 points while Gowin added 11. Althoff’s Hill led all scorers with 13 points while Earl Liverpool added 10.

The loss dropped Lincoln to 1-2 in the tournament. Lincoln finished third in its pool for the tournament, meaning Lincoln will face the third place team from the other pool Danville at 4:45 for fifth place in the tournament.

All results from Friday are:
• Mt. Zion 79, Cahokia 42
• Danville 65, Mahomet-Seymour 60
• Champaign Centennial 59, Belleville West 51 OT
• Belleville Althoff 37, Lincoln 35

The finalized pool play results:

Green Pool
Mt. Zion 3 0
Belleville Althoff 2 1
Lincoln 1 2
Cahokia 0 3

Red Pool
Champaign Centennial 3 0
Belleville West 2 1
Danville 1 2
Mahomet-Seymour 0 3

Based on these results, the Saturday schedule for the tournament will be:

Saturday 11/25
3 PM – Cahokia vs. Mahomet-Seymour (7th place game)
4:45 PM – Lincoln vs. Danville (5th place game)
6:30 PM – Belleville Althoff vs. Belleville West (3rd place game)
8:15 PM – Mt. Zion vs. Champaign Centennial (Championship game)

[Loyd Kirby]

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