Centennial boys improve to 2-0
LINCOLN -- The operative word for the Centennial boys' basketball team entering the season was "talent."
With two Division I recruits on the roster, that feeling is more of a statement of fact than an opinion.
On Wednesday, in second-round action of the Eaton Electric Tournament, the Chargers' smooth and efficient operation brought to mind another word: Depth.
In a game where 6-foot-8 Jeff Johnson -- an Eastern Kentucky recruit -- sat out with a wrist injury, Centennial took command early and built leads as large as 52 points en route to an 86-37 thrashing of Rochster. The Chargers, the top-ranked team in Class 3A, are 2-0 ahead of a 7 p.m. Friday game against Cahokia.
No starter played the final 13 1/2 minutes and five reserves logged at least 11 total minutes, including Laziriss Baker, who scored 10 points.
"It was an opportunity to see some guys who don't play as much, in game situations," Charger coach Tim Lavin said.
Rochester, missing six athletes who are getting a late start due to the success of the school's football team, scored first on a three-pointer by Trent Nolen 22 seconds into the game. Centennial went ahead to stay, 8-6, on the first of two first-period three-pointers by Tiger O'Neil.
Drake signee Rayvonte Rice scored nine of his game-high 18 points in the second quarter as the Chargers forced 11 turnovers in the period and raced into a 50-20 halftime lead.
Based on the state rankings, released on Tuesday, the top three Class 3A teams are in the six-school round-robin event. Centennial is rated first, host Lincoln is second and Belleville Althoff, Centennial's 1 p.m. Saturday opponent, is third.
"I don't know how you can give preseason rankings without basing it on last year," said Lavin, whose team is the defending 3A state champions. "Rankings don't mean anything until you've played 12 or 15 games."
What means something is how last year's success will affect this year's team.
"We know everyone will bring their best against the defending state champs and that's an advantage for us because we have to play from the get-go," Lavin said.
Josh Piper scored 11 points for the Chargers, his second consecutive game in double figures. Hunter Jacobs, Cliff Meece and James Mihm all added eight points apiece.
Mihm was 3-for-3, scoring on a breakaway dunk, a rebound dunk and a three-pointer.
After moving into a 35-20 lead, Centennial (2-0) used a 21-0 spurt that extended into the first three minutes of the third quarter and built an insurmountable 56-20 lead. At that juncture, Lavin substituted five players and the starters became spectators and cheerleaders.
"We played hard the whole game and, for the most part, we executed like we can," Lavin said.
The coach said Johnson's status is "day-by-day," and he will be re-evaluated prior to Friday's game.
Lincoln 69, Danville 54
After dropping a 16-point decision to the state's top-rated team while shorthanded in Monday's opener, the Vikings suffered a 15-point setback to the No. 2 team on Wednesday while still missing some varsity players.
"The final score is not indicative of how we played," Danville coach Gary Tidwell said. "We were pretty competitive."
When Joey Robinson converted a steal with 5:23 remaining in the third period, the teams were tied, 35-35. The Vikings, who made more than half of their shots in the first three quarters, were within a 49-46 count entering the fourth period.
However, 2-for-14 accuracty down the stretch prevented them from drawing closer.
"We were within striking distance in the fourth quarter," Tidwell said, "but we couldn't find the basket."
Danville's top two scorers in the opener were the leading point-makers again. D'Lando Carter reached the 20-point mark for the second game in a row, hitting four of his eight total field goals from three-point range. Robinson added 16 points to go with a team-high seven rebounds.
"They're doing a lot of nice things," Tidwell said. "I'm encouraged by their performance the last two games."
Three of the six football players who sat out Monday's opener were in uniform and both Keaton Britt (six points) and Jaron Cunningham (four rebounds) were in the starting lineup. The third addition from the football team, Dennis Hightower (three points) was the first reserve to see the court.
The football trio showed rustiness from a lack of basketball practice, combining to make 4 of 16 field goal attempts and 1 of 6 free throws.
"We've got a lot of potential," Tidwell said. "Once we get a full team together, the guys know the abilities of the team. We'll be able to put points on the board and we'll be able to defend people.
"We'll be a team to contend with."
Tidwell doesn't expect to have any of the other three players from football for the final three tournament games. Danville (0-2) returns to the court at 5:30 p.m. on Friday to face Rochester (0-2).
Brian Morefield grabbed six rebounds for Danville, helping the Vikings to a 29-23 edge on the boards. Jovon Shaw added five points.
Lincoln's Jordan Nelson was the game's top scorer. His 30-point outburst included 6 of 9 accuracy from three-point range.