@Body Type:LINCOLN [–] The game plan was good, but the execution was even better.
Centennial's Chargers followed the strategy that was drawn up on Wednesday and registered a second-round upset in Lincoln's annual round-robin boys' basketball tournament.
Coach Tim Lavin's team upended Lincoln 61-56, handing the Railsplitters a rare loss on their own court.
To beat Lincoln, it's imperative to keep the Railers off the free throw line, to work the ball inside offensively and to keep your poise when the opponent makes its inevitable run.
Centennial scored highly in all three categories. The Chargers limited Lincoln to just three free throw attempts until the game's final 90 seconds. All seven of Centennial's fourth-quarter field goals were on layups and the Chargers never got flustered when the Railers trimmed a 12-point final-quarter deficit to three points in the last half-minute.
"This is a tough place to play and a tough defense to go against," said Lavin, who earned his first coaching win against Lincoln, "and they always have threats who can shoot the ball."
The Chargers (2-0) went ahead to stay, 14-13, with 6:53 left in the second quarter on two free throws from Rayvonte Rice. Lincoln (1-1) never caught up and trailed by as much as 14 points before intermission.
James Kinney, the Chargers' top scorer in a Monday win at Danville, was held to six points, all in the second quarter. He attempted just two shots the second half, but was instrumental in getting the ball inside to Dan Plecki (5 for 5) and Tyron Smith (5 for 7).
Kinney had a game-high five assists.
"For the most part, we did a nice job of moving the ball," Lavin said. "The guys take pride in passing to each other."
Rice scored a team-high 15 points, Plecki had 12 and Smith added 10.
Centennial held a 27-14 cushion on the boards, with Bryson Davis-Johnson grabbing a team-high six. Tyler Stefan scored eight points for the Chargers, hitting both of his three-point attempts.
Lincoln was able to get to the free throw line late, sinking 8 of 9 attempts in the final 90 seconds. The Railers, who trailed 51-39 in the final quarter, drew as close as 59-56.
The Chargers return to Lincoln on Friday for a 7 p.m. showdown with the only other tournament unbeaten, O'Fallon (2-0).
Peoria Manual 69, Danville 50
Mikel Brigham recorded a double-double in his first game of the season, but Danville was unable to hang onto its early lead and dropped a 69-50 decision to Manual.
Brigham hauled down a game-high 11 rebounds to go with 10 points. Teammate Daveon Allen was the game's top scorer, with 23 points. Allen made his final seven free throw attempts.
"He demonstrated his leadership and played with a lot of confidence," Danville coach Gary Tidwell said. "He's a guy we will be able to consistently count on.
After building a 19-15 lead with 6[1/2] minutes left in the second quarter, the Vikings managed just a three-pointer by Allen in the final minutes before the buzzer sounded.
At intermission, Manual (1-1) led 32-22.
"Our effort was a whole lot better," Tidwell said. "Collis (Lillard) picked up his intensity from Game 1. He was on the floor for loose balls and did a great job of scrapping."
Brigham blocked three shots and altered several others during his 30 minutes and 32 seconds of court time.
"His presence made a big difference," Tidwell said.
Terrell Duckworth added nine points and seven rebounds for the Vikings.
Danville (0-2) returns to Lincoln at 8:30 p.m. on Friday and will face the home team in the 8:30 p.m. contest.