11:00 a.m. is an odd time to be playing basketball, but when I arrived at the Canton Memorial Civic Center and saw the line of school busses, it became perfectly clear. Canton school kids were bused in for this special early game and they brought a lot of loud with them. Even when the Charge was trailing by as much as 20 points late in the first half, there were still cheers of encouragement from the 3,697 voices attending the game.
It looked grim right from the start when after trading baskets back and forth, the Stampede suddenly built an impressive lead of 34-15 in the first quarter hitting 65% on offense and forcing eight turnovers which were converted into nine points. One of the Stampede’s secret weapons was former Charge player JaJuan Johnson who accounted for 11 first quarter points.
It began to fade to black as the Charge fell to minus 20 at 65-45 with 44 seconds left in the half, but some fast breaks chopped off five points and the Charge went into the locker room on the slippery side of the 65-50 score.
Canton came back to life in the third period with a 22-5 run by forcing six turnovers for 10 points and taking a 72-70 lead as the crowd went berserk. It is the loudest crowd that I have ever heard in the Civic Center and it felt good! Both teams went even steven on the next four buckets, Canton did a 6-2 run to put the game out of reach. It was night and day with night being the first half when the Charge turned over the ball 12 times for 15 points and day in the second half with four ball surrenders that were only good for two points.
Canton was led by their duo of Cleveland Cavaliers assignees Kevin Jones and Josh Selby. Jones had a team-high 24 points on 11-of-18 shooting with nine rebounds, two steals and three blocks in 39 minutes. Selby finished with 14 points, six rebounds and three steals in 31 minutes. Jorge Gutierrez scored 14 points, grabbed six rebounds, dished out seven assists and nabbed two steals in 34 minutes. Kyle Gibson poured in 19 points with two steals in 29 minutes.
Justin Holiday posted a game-high 32 points with nine rebounds, six assists and six steals in 39 minutes. Johnson finished with 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting with three rebounds and two assists in 31 minutes. Coby Karl added 13 points with five rebounds, four assists and two steals in 39 minutes. After hitting 24-of-44 shots for 55% in the first half, the Stampede were limited to 16-of-39 field goal attempts for 41% in the second half, including just 25% while being outscored 31-15 in that game-changing third quarter.
Canton will next host the East Division rival Armor this Saturday, March 2nd at 7:30 p.m. at the Memorial Civic Center. Tickets start as low as $7 and fans can learn more by heading to www.CantonCharge.com.
CANTON CHARGE POSTGAME QUOTES
CHARGE HEAD COACH ALEX JENSEN
(On tonight’s game): “I told the guys after the game that players win games and you have to give them all the credit in the world because they played and it’s hard to do that. We were down with the 20-point deficit in the first period, but we came back with defense. I give Mike (Peck) and Idaho a lot credit because they’ve been down with a lot of injuries. They have two new guys who have joined them, and they played great being that today was their first game and on the road as long as they have been.”
(On what he said to the team at halftime): “I said the same rules that we always teach: ‘Just don’t beat yourself because they aren’t beating you with anything that we haven’t already talked about.’
The defense will always lead to a good offense and that’s what happened in the third quarter. If we get the rebound, we will be able to out run. If we get those loose ball and long rebounds, they will lead to layups and the momentum builds. There are games where all the other team does is hit shots, and there isn’t very much that you can do about it. Good defense is based on whether they make the shot or not, and the nice thing about it was the group effort. If you look at Jorge’s (Gutierrrez) stat line today, he had seven (assists) one (turnover), six-for-six from the free throw line and the defense was solid.”
(On new addition Kyle Weaver): “First impression on Kyle Weaver is great. I knew him from last year and Ira (Newble), who was the coach here last year, was with him in Austin. He gave us eight or nine minutes in the first half and hit a big three-point shot when we were stagnant (offensively). He’s a professional and a veteran and can help us down the line. It’s always hard for the first game with a whole different team and all new plays. JaJuan (Johnson) was great today and I think the trade will be a good opportunity for him, and in the end he’ll have a lot of minutes. He’s a great kid and we will miss him.”
F KEVIN JONES
(On what third quarter adjustments they made): “I think it was just our mindset to come out and guard and to not to let them get anything easy. They were just getting any shot that they wanted to. They shot a real high percentage in the first half, and we just wanted to come back and get it little by little.”
(On how Idaho built their large lead early): “They were capitalizing off of our mistakes, and they were hitting tough shots in their zone feeling it. We knew if we tightened up on defense and didn’t give them easy shots that the chances of them making it were going to be a little bit slimmer. We did that and started to buckle down to get into our offense.”
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