MAHOMET — Time simply ran out on the Mahomet-Seymour boys' basketball team.
The Bulldogs hadn't led since a 7-5 edge during the first quarter of Tuesday's Apollo Conference contest against undefeated Lincoln. They'd fallen behind by 12 points at halftime.
Yet here they were, sitting within a three-pointer of matching the Railsplitters with less than a minute remaining in regulation.
M-S just couldn't find that critical bucket.
"No moral victories for us," first-year Bulldogs coach Ryan Bosch said after a 65-59 loss to Lincoln. "If nothing else, it feeds the hunger a little bit more, that you know it was right there for the next time."
That next time is Jan. 25, about 54 miles west inside the home of the Railsplitters (8-0, 5-0 Apollo).
For now, M-S (5-4, 2-2) will have to live with a bitter taste in its mouth.
"Lincoln's a really good basketball team, and you can't make mistakes and give them extra possessions," Bosch said, "and we did that too often (Tuesday)."
Jermaine Hamlin, a 6-foot-10 senior, deposited 17 points as a tough-to-stop option in the paint, and junior Kaden Froebe added 16 points as one of four underclassmen in leader Neil Alexander's starting lineup.
"The only kid that's got any varsity playing time from a year ago is Jermaine. The rest of them were all on the sophomore team," Alexander said. "We're going to have periods in games that we're going to slip a little bit. We're just trying to get them to where they're not so long and frequent."
The Railsplitters' first half was nothing like that.
Five different athletes drained some sort of shot during the opening quarter, and Lincoln went on a 9-0 run to start the next period, fueled by Hamlin and Froebe.
"They all can shoot it," Alexander said. "It's a well-rounded team. Each one of them are capable of having big nights."
The Bulldogs didn't falter despite a 34-22 halftime deficit.
Junior Grant Coleman racked up a game-high 22 points, including 13 in the second half, despite the Railsplitters giving him ample attention.
And that focus handed other M-S stars a chance to shine. Senior Connor Kamphaus (12 points), junior Kobe Essien (12) and senior Jordan Veldman (11) all reached double figures scoring.
"Some guys are playing with some confidence on the offensive side of the ball right now," Bosch said, "which is good, because I think we can be sort of formidable defensively most nights."
Even as Lincoln started feeding the big man Hamlin more in the night's waning moments, the Bulldogs found another gear.
They came up with a defensive stop that created a Kamphaus triple in transition — his fourth of the matchup. It pulled M-S to a 58-55 disadvantage with 55.5 seconds left.
"I'm so proud of our guys' resiliency," Bosch said. "They're going to win a lot of basketball games this season as a result of that."
Just not this one.
The Railsplitters converted 10 of 12 free throws in the last stanza — including four from sophomore Dylan Singleton — to stave off the hosts.
Even thought Lincoln caused plenty of problems with its hot shooting early and its three-quarter-court defense throughout the evening, Bosch felt this was an outing M-S could've won.
"The energy and the excitement coming out, we kind of forced ourselves into some ... turnovers," he said. "There's possessions our guys would like to have back that they regret."