It was “Zombie Night” at the Canton Memorial Civic Center as fans dressed up as their favorite undead while on the court the Canton Charge was very much alive with great defense and powerful offensive moves and as the carnage was carted away at the final buzzer the score card read 105-96 in favor of the home team.
It was a lively crowd of 2,590 who enjoyed a festive atmosphere that permeated the entire game. The win puts Canton at 7-1 for the season and still undefeated at home while Erie is starting the season at 0-6.
The Charge was able to start off with an early lead of 13-12 with 6:52 left in the first quarter after a series of trading leads. At that point it was a foregone conclusion as the Charge gradually kept building on the lead. The quarter ended with a 31-22 advantage while hitting13-of-21for 62% that included 24 points in the paint.
The second quarter saw more of the same as seven Charge players cracked the scoring column with 12-of-20 shots for an even better 65% from the floor. At the half it was us 60, them 41. Erie suffered seven turnovers in the quarter with Justin Brownlee keeping them in the game with 10 of the team’s 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting.
The third quarter began with Antoine Agudio sinking a three pointer as the Charge went on a 7-0 run while ratcheting up the lead to 67-41after only 89 ticks off the clock. Canton maintained a lead above 20 for most of the period when the Bay Hawks brought the third to an end with an 8-2 run in the last 3:43 with three Canton turnovers and Scott Suggs hitting on a couple of three pointers.
It was still Canton in the driver’s seat in the fourth with an 83-64 advantage but Erie forced another seven turnovers that resulted in nine points. Although they outscored Canton 32-22 in the last twelve minutes of playing time it was not enough to overcome the deficit as the final buzzer sounded.
Erie’s Suggs and new addition Lewis Jackson each netted 10 points in the quarter. As a team, Canton finished 41-of-76 from the field (53.9%, season-high) and also dished out a season-best 25 assists on the night.
Arinze Onuaku poured in a career-high 29 points on 11-of-11 shooting with nine rebounds, a season-high three blocks and one steal in 28 minutes. Jorge Gutierrez added 12 points, five rebounds, six assists and two steals in 30 minutes. In his season debut, Robert Hite supplied 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting with three rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. Shane Edwards scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds in 20 minutes, while Bo Spencer added eight points and seven assists in 27 minutes.
For Erie, Suggs finished with 22 points and four steals in 44 minutes. CJ Leslie scored 14 points and grabbed five boards in 27 minutes. Jackson finished with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting with six rebounds, six assists and two steals in 30 minutes off the bench. Brownlee supplied 12 points, six rebounds and four steals in 34 minutes of relief.
Head Coach Steve Hetzel
(On Arinze Onuaku’s play tonight):"He's a big boy, and he's gotten the job done thus far this season. We like to feature him and see what he's got early in the game; we like looking to go inside. Arinze is a top-tier player in this league and he's NBA-ready as soon as he gets the right opportunity. These guys got to show that it doesn't matter who's on the court. They've got to show that they can get the job done because when they play at the next level, I guarantee you there's a good defender there, so you've got to score against the best."
(On Robert Hite making his season debut tonight): "I'm just so happy for him. When we made the trade for him in this offseason, we were very excited to get a veteran leader, a guy that understands how to play the game and just a positive-energy guy… I'm just happy for him. Rob is what a coach wants out of a player: somebody that shows up every day and if we're not doing something right, he's an extension of the staff and he's a leader. He's a positive part of this team and it showed tonight."
(On playing Erie again tomorrow night):"You give them confidence. You've got to play the same team tomorrow, and those guys that are walking off the court (are thinking), 'Hey, we can play against these guys.' You don't like giving the other team momentum in any way, whether it's for the next night or during the game, so we would have liked to finish better."
F/C Arinze Onuaku
(On his efficiency tonight): "The guards find me in spots where I can score the ball early. We've got a great offense to where I'm catching the ball in places where it's a jab-step-and-up or one dribble and I'm up. Like I said, credit to the guards for finding me so I'm able to finish."
(On if he changes his approach when playing a smaller-sized team): "I try to approach it the same way every night… I'm trying to (prepare the same) regardless of who is on the floor. I think that's what my team expects from me. Night in and night out, whoever is in front of me, they want me to be able to give them the same presence every night."
The two teams will meet againtomorrow night, December 14th, at 7:00 p.m., with tickets starting as low as $7!
The first 1,500 in the door will receive a Charge Ugly Sweater T-Shirt courtesy of the Ohio Lottery, while fans are encouraged to wear their own “ugly” Christmas sweaters and take photos in our Charge Awkward Family Photo Booth!
The contest will also feature dollar hot dogs presented by Sugardale and postgame autographs presented by FirstEnergy Solutions. To purchase single game tickets or for all general ticket information, fans can call 1-866-444-1944 or visitwww.CantonCharge.com/tickets.