CHAMPAIGN — Regardless of what's happening — good, bad or ugly — the expressions on Devin Carter's face often tell the story.
The Centennial senior smiled a lot Friday, so you can make an educated guess based on that knowledge about how the Chargers fared against Decatur Eisenhower.
Centennial 56, Eisenhower 32. Carter grins: countless.
"For him, it's a focus thing," Centennial coach Tim Lavin said. "He's definitely talented enough. When he comes out focused and plays hard, good things happen. He's a good player."
Carter, a 6-foot-4 guard, scored 15 points off the bench to spark the Chargers.
"I just love being on the court with my team," Carter said. "I don't know what it is, but when I get on the court with my team, we just mix well and everybody does their job."
Carter's high school journey hasn't always been all about the smiles. He began his career at Centennial, then attended Urbana until this fall, when he transferred back to Centennial because of parental custody issues.
"It had nothing to do with basketball," he said.
The Chargers are happy to have him back. Carter and Phillip Wright (11 points, eight rebounds) came off the bench to key a second-quarter surge that proved decisive. Leading 6-5 after one period, the Chargers outscored Eisenhower 24-10 in the second quarter to take command. Carter had 10 points and Wright six in the period.
"I think you can see how much a difference that Phillip Wright and Devin Carter make," Lavin said. "Just energywise, athleticismwise, those are two kids who will attack the basket and make things happen."
Michael Finke scored a team-high 16 for the Chargers. He's the team's only sophomore, the rest being juniors and seniors that Carter has played with and against in the past.
"From the freshman and JV teams, it's kind of the same guys, so I fit right back in," Carter said. "It's a great mix, if you ask me."
That mixture includes a decent amount of depth, a factor that could be a major benefit as the season evolves. On Friday, the Centennial reserves outscored the starters 34-22.
"We have versatility (and) we have guys who can create some mismatch problems," Lavin said. "We have a little bit of everything. Right now guys are learning, but I think after Christmastime, we're going to be a pretty solid team."
The Chargers' biggest attribute Friday was a defense that forced 22 turnovers, including a fullcourt press that had the befuddled Panthers throwing the ball away repeatedly in the second quarter. The Chargers trailed 10-9 early in the period before scoring 21 of the next 26 points. Carter had 10 of the Chargers' 21.