DANVILLE — This basketball season will be unlike any other that Tim Lavin has coached in 11 years at Centennial High School.
When the games start, he is not only the Chargers' coach but also the parent of a Centennial player.
The coach didn't look too happy when junior Jeffrey Lavin launched a three-point shot with 1 minutes, 26 seconds left in a game Centennial was winning on the road by one point.
The father had a smile on his face as Jeffrey Lavin sunk his second three-pointer and created a margin that Danville could not overcome in the remaining seconds of a Big 12 Conference season-opening boys' basketball game, which Centennial won 67-63.
Speaking as the coach, Tim Lavin said, "I don't know if that was the best shot. We probably should have taken more time off the clock."
As the parent, he said, "for his first time in a varsity game, he did a good job."
Jeffrey Lavin wasn't the only Charger making his varsity debut in a game that is part of the week-long Lincoln Tournament. Michael Finke, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, had a double-double with matching totals of 13 points and 13 rebounds.
"He's skilled and composed and will be a good one when it's all said and done," Tim Lavin said. "For his first time on varsity, against some athleticism, he held his own. He'll have some ups and downs, but he's a good kid who works hard."
Danville's Dennis Hightower did his part to keep his team in contention. He hit 18 of his game-high 23 points in the second half. The 6-foot Hightower started each half with a three-pointer less than 16 seconds into the quarter.
For Centennial, it was the team's only returning starter who provided a spark. Besides scoring a team-best 18 points, Taylen Alexander hustled down a rebound near the left sideline following a free throw he missed with 9.8 seconds to go.
"A lot of times, he was the only senior on the court," Tim Lavin said. "He attacked the basket and made a lot of good plays."
The late-game rebound, which came with the Chargers leading 66-63, reflected an area of significant improvement.
"He brought a lot of energy," the Centennial coach said. "That's the one thing we questioned last year. I don't know if he would have done that (tracked down the rebound) last year."
Centennial's third double-digit scorer was senior Austin Judy, who came off the bench to score 10 points. He was also the game's second-leading rebounder with eight.
Danville received 14 points from fourth-year varsity player Jaron Cunningham and 11 from sophomore Denzel Smith, who hit 5 of 5 from the field in his varsity debut.
"He's a crafty player around the basket," Danville coach Gary Tidwell said.
Hightower and Altez Davis were Danville's top rebounders with seven apiece.
Though the Vikings held a 27-21 edge in field goals made, Tidwell said it was the Chargers who took the necessary steps to win the game. The Chargers were 18 of 25 from the free throw line. Danville was 4 of 12.
"Centennial's execution was pretty solid," Tidwell said, "and they kept their composure. Lavin hit some tough shots, and their guards handled our pressure well (seven second-half turnovers)."
Jeffrey Lavin, one of four Chargers to nail three-pointers, made his first one in the opening minute of the final period, also at a time his team held a one-point lead. Danville regained the lead one more time before two free throws and an Alexander three-pointer put Centennial in control for good, 53-49, with 4:17 to go.
The Chargers made 4 of 6 final-quarter three-point attempts and were 12 of 15 from the free throw line after intermission.
"They hit clutch shots late, and we're playing way too soft right now," Tidwell said. "The board game hurt us most of the night. We competed hard, but the board game is disappointing. We're better than that."
Both schools return to action in separate Wednesday games at Lincoln. The Chargers will gain the services of Urbana transfer Devin Carter for Saturday's two games. The 6-4 Carter was a double-figure scorer last season for the Tigers.