The Des Moines Lincoln Basketball team is in its toughest stretch of the season when it comes to opponents. After sprinting to a 9-3 start, the Rails stumbled at Ottumwa and Johnston and on Tuesday night, the red-hot Valley Tigers gave the Rails their third loss in five games to drop Lincoln to 11-7 on the season. Valley is winners of six straight after the 68-52 win at the Roundhouse Tuesday night.
Valley sprinted to a 13-3 lead out of the gates and took a 35-18 lead into halftime. The Railsplitters were able to steady the margin in the third quarter before the offense finally came to life in the beginning of the fourth. Despite the fast finish by Lincoln, the slow start was too much to overcome.
“Our guys did a great job adjusting to how we were being guarded in the second half. We weren’t creating the looks we wanted off the actions that were a part of our initial game plan,” said head coach Justin Einerson. “The fact that we could get things rolling in our motion in the third and fourth quarter should give us a boost in confidence going into Friday night.”
Lincoln only connected on 5-of-20 shots from the paint against the long and lanky Tigers. With the close shots rimming out, the three-point looks were even more important. The Railsplitters shot above their average from deep, connecting on 11-of-26 and 42 percent. On the flip side, Valley shot 55 percent from the field and pounded the ball inside to take a commanding 38-10 advantage in paint points.
Senior Nate Feller finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and hit 4-of-5 of his threes. Ben Badger and Kamron Francis each added nine points.
The Railsplitters now focus forward to Friday night’s CIML Metro title game, a Valentines Day rematch with the Polar Bears, this time on the north side of town. On Saturday, the Polar Bears put together a shocking 43 point fourth quarter to erase a 52-39 Railsplitters lead.
With both Lincoln and North sitting at 7-2 in the CIML Metro, the championship will be decided Friday. Tip-off time for varsity is 7:45pm.