This season will be about adaptation for every boys basketball team in Illinois and the Lincolnwood Lancers are no exception. With three of their top five scorers lost to graduation and more games than practices scheduled in this bizarre Covid-19 ravaged season, the Lancers will be learning on the fly in 2021.
“We have a lot of new guys in new roles,” said Matt Millburg, coach of the Lincolnwood-Morrisonville co-op squad. “The number one thing we wanted them to do was just play hard and they did that. That’s something big that we can use going forward.”
Their drive and their ability to adapt was put to the test in their opening game on Saturday, Feb. 6, as Lincolnwood put down a scrappy Sangamon Valley club 58-42.
The Lancers threatened to make the game a rout in the early going, getting back-to-back threes from Braxton Schmedeke and Devin Brown and a two from Braden Whalen for an 8-1 run in the opening two minutes.
But the Storm would come back, getting Brown into foul trouble and making the most of their opportunities. With 12 seconds left in the quarter, Cameron Calhoun scored to make it a 15-12 game after eight minutes.
Sangamon Valley would never lead in the game, but pulled even with the Lancers on a three-pointer by Dakota Floyd. Lincolnwood answered with a three of their own by Whalen, which sparked an 11-0 run that gave the hosts a 26-15 lead inside two minutes to play in the first half.
While the final two points of the run came on a pair of free throws by Will Jenkins after Sangamon Valley Coach Nick Viele was assessed a technical foul, the majority of the points came off fast break opportunities, one of the Lancers’ strengths.
“They switched defenses on us a couple times and we didn’t get really comfortable in either zone or man, but in transition, I think we’re tough to beat,” Coach Millburg said of his offense.
Despite the charge, Sangamon Valley kept it close, scoring four straight, with Owen Floyd picking up a steal and a layup in the final seconds to make it 26-20 at the break.
The lead hovered in single digits in the third quarter, with the Storm threatening to make a run of their own after scoring five straight points and sending Brown to the bench with his fourth foul with 5:52 left in the quarter.
But with their two biggest post threats on the bench (senior Jhadyn Walker is still recovering from an injury suffered during an off-road motorcycle race), the Lancers adapted and began hitting shots in the open floor, something Millburg said they have shown the ability to do in the limited amount of practice time they have had.
Whalen and Zake Guzman each hit threes in the second half of the quarter, while Jenkins knocked down a pair of triples in the streak. With ten seconds left Whalen drove in and scored his 16th point of the game to give Lincolnwood a 50-32 going into the fourth quarter, capping off a 20-5 run by the home team.
Sangamon Valley would never get closer than 13 points in the final frame, with threes by Whalen and Brown giving Lincolnwood their biggest lead of the game at 20 points, before the Lancers cruised to a 16-point victory.
The Lancers were 10-of-26 from three-point range in the game and 21-for-57 overall. Sangamon Valley was 12-for-40 overall and 4-of-17 from behind the arc.
Whalen led all scorers with 19 points, but the Lancers were balanced on offense with Jenkins adding 12 and Schmedeke contributing 10. Brown finished with seven points, while Cole Sidwell also had seven, one more point than foul as the Morrisonville senior picked up a late technical seconds after getting his fifth personal foul in a slightly chippy exchange with a Sangamon Valley foe.
Calhoun and Dakota Floyd led Sangamon Valley with 13 points each, while Owen Floyd added in ten. Lincolnwood would hold the remaining players to just six points total.
With Walker working his way back and the rest of the Lancers getting more comfortable in their new positions, hopes are high that Saturday’s win is the first of many for the Lincolnwood boys in 2021.
Lincolnwood will be back at home on Tuesday, Feb. 9, as they host Tri-City in MSM Conference action.
February 6 at Raymond
Sang. Valley 12 8 12 10 42
Lincolnwood 15 11 24 8 58
Sangamon Valley (42) - Dakota Floyd 13, Cameron Calhoun 13, Owen Floyd 10, Lucas Hotwick 4, Parker Milligan 2. Totals: 12 14-22 42.
Lincolnwood (58) - Braden Whalen 19, Will Jenkins 12, Braxton Schmedeke 10, Devin Brown 7, Cole Sidwell 7, Zake Guzman 3. Totals: 21 6-10 58.
Three-point field goals: Sangamon Valley 4 (D. Floyd 2, O. Floyd 2); Lincolnwood 10 (Whalen 3, Jenkins 2, Brown 2, Schmedeke 1, Guzman 1, Sidwell 1).
Records: Lincolnwood (1-0), Sangamon Valley (0-1).