It was a “must win” situation last night as the Canton Charge kept their playoff hopes alive with a victory over the Maine Red Claws 117-108 as 3,678 looked on at the Canton Memorial Civic Center. The win improves The Charge to 27-19 for the season and one step closer in clinching their third playoff berth in their three seasons of existence. Maine drops to 19-26.
Two perfectly matched teams took the court as thirteen lead changes and eight ties were to be had in the first half alone. Both teams traded shot for shot and the sparring continued into the third period with five more lead changes and six ties. At the 3:54 mark in the third, Canton finally broke the stalemate with the teams tied 74-74 as they hit for eight out of nine shots during a 17-7 run as they took a double digit lead of 91-81.
Starting off the fourth quarter up 93-86, Canton’s Antoine Agudio put forth a huge effort as he scored 14 points in the period and was responsible for twelve straight during a 12-2 run. This resulted in the biggest lead of the game at 106-94. The Charge never looked back as they kept the pressure on right to the end giving the team a 3-2 edge in the season series between the two teams. The win also raised the home victory mark to 17-8.
For the first time in franchise history, five Canton players scored 20+ points (all starters), as the first unit accounted for 109 of the team’s total points. Kyrylo Fesenko had his second-straight game with a double-double, posting 22 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks in 38 minutes. Agudio had a team-high 24 points with three steals, while Gilbert Brown netted 20 points with five boards. Shane Edwards added 22 points of his own with six rebounds, while Will Cherry rounded out the frontline’s effort with 21 points.
Maine was led by the recently reacquired Chris Wright’s game-high 29 points on 11-of-20 shooting with nine rebounds and two blocks in 41 minutes. Frank Gaines poured in 26 points on 8-of-14 shooting in 36 minutes. Daniel Orton came off the bench to add 15 points and nine boards in 32 minutes of relief. Both teams finished over 50% shooting from the floor in the game, but the Charge forced 15 Red Claws turnovers resulting in 24 points while surrendering 11 of their own for just 12 points.
HEAD COACH STEVE HETZEL
(On Antoine Agudio’s play tonight):“He took a sip out of the fountain of youth. He’s been steadfast (for us). If Ron Howard is Mr. Mad Ant, he is Mr. Charge. He deserved a night like this because nobody cares more than he does about number one, winning, and two, playing for this team. I’m just so happy that he had a night like this and we needed him to. He propelled us to victory.”
G ANTOINE AGUDIO
(On the team’s second half play):“We have been practicing hard all week. Coach (Hetzel) told us to trust each other; I know it’s a new team. In that second half, we just buckled-down and sat in the huddle and talked about it. It brought the guys together. He likes us to be on the same page and we started rolling from there.”
(On the team’s developing chemistry):“We have been practicing hard and Coach has been getting on us. We’re professionals and we have got to come together. It doesn’t matter who comes and goes, we still have got to put it together. I think we’re coming together and trusting each other more, sharing the ball on offense like we did in the beginning of the year when we had that (five) game win streak.”
Canton now goes on the road for four games with hopes of bringing home a playoff berth as they battle the Iowa Energy (27-17) on Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 8:00 p.m. For tickets, game day promotions and links to live stats and YouTube game streams, head towww.CantonCharge.com.