The Canton Charge hit the court Saturday night looking like they had something to prove. Even through the pre-game warm-ups, there was a look of grim determination and resolve as practice basket after practice basket hit its mark. When the smoke cleared, the team and fans were rewarded with a 104-93 victory that had 3,070 cheering fans leaving the arena happy.
The win was not without its controversy as it seemed a disproportionate amount of fouls went against the Charge. Speculation among the fans was that perhaps the Armor were dressed in the new NBA experimental “stealth” uniforms making even the most blatant fouls invisible to the officiating crew, while the brightly uniformed Charge players stood out in stark contrast. In the end, it evened a bit (partly due to intentional fouls as the Armor fought to a desperate climax) with a total of 21 calls going against the Charge and 18 for the Armor.
Through an edgy first period, Canton squeaked ahead 30-28 due in large part to an aerial show of four Alex Ruoff three pointers. The second quarter found both teams battling it out in the trenches to an explosive ending as Springfield’s Ben Uzoh sunk a 20 foot jump shot with 4.2 seconds left for the tie immediately followed by Jorge Gutierrez grabbing the inbound pass, sprinting down court and bombing a 21 footer three pointer giving Canton a 51-48 lead at the half and cheers from the excited crowd.
The third quarter looked like the return of bad karma as the Armor had a 9-0 run leading at one point by six. Canton recovered and with seven of their nine last shots of the quarter hitting true took over the lead and kept it to the end of the game. Helping to pad the lead by as much as 13 in the fourth quarter, Michael Eric hit his form with nine points and seven rebounds in the closing period.
There was also some strange mojo going on at the money end of the arena for the Charge who missed four seemingly easy slam dunks. While the fans were scratching their heads on this one, Joege Gutierrez made an incredible leaping slam dunk to chants of “Hip Hip Jorge” and a resounding round of applause as he later left the court in the fourth quarter.
This four of six victory gives the Charge a respectable 14-10 record while Springfield leaves town with a 6-14 compilation for the season thus far. The Charge has a 4-2 edge over the Armor with just two more meetings planned in the regular season.
In just his third start of the season, Ryan Rossiter notched his first career double-double with a team-high 19 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in 29 minutes. Eric finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes for his seventh double-double and the fourth in his last five games. Gutierrez finished with an all-around effort of 17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals in 31 minutes. Ruoff had 16 points and two steals in 32 minutes off the bench. Six Charge players scored in double figures.
Springfield had all five starters score in double figures, led by Willie Reed’s effort of 21 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes. James Mays added 18 points, 13 rebounds and two steals in 37 minutes. Uzoh poured in 18 points with five rebounds, four assists and two steals in 38 minutes. Carleton Scott contributed 10 points and eight rebounds in 44 minutes. The Armor outrebounded the Charge 50-43 in the game, while both teams combined for 106 points in the paint as Canton finished with the 54-52 edge.
Canton will round out this three-game home stand by hosting the Fort Wayne Mad Ants on Monday, January 21st at 7:00 p.m. Tickets start at just $7 and fans can receive more information by heading to www.CantonCharge.com.
CANTON CHARGE POSTGAME QUOTES
CHARGE HEAD COACH ALEX JENSEN
(On Micheal Eric’s play down the stretch tonight): “We took some bad shots, but he kept that lead for us by offensive rebounding. The problem with that now is I expect him to do that every game and I’ll remind him that’s what he’s capable of. He was great and he was on the bench for a good seven or eight minutes (before he came in). I give him all the credit in the world. He came in and changed the game. He kept the momentum with us when nothing we were doing otherwise would have kept us with that lead.”
(On Ryan Rossiter thriving in his starting role the past few games): “You always tell everybody that your time will come. I don’t know when it will come, but be ready and he is the epitome of that. Whether he was getting little minutes or a lot of minutes, he’s the same at practice every day. You know exactly what you’re going to get from Ryan which is a nice thing as a coach. He had a great game tonight.”
F RYAN ROSSITER
(On what the difference was down the stretch tonight from last night): “I think we executed on defense a little better. Last night’s rotations weren’t there and we tried to correct them before the game tonight. I thought we did a better job talking and being more accountable for one another.”
(On how they were able to correct some mistakes from last night): “I think we just learn from film. I think we knew from last night that they kind of jumped us in the fourth quarter right away and we kind of never recouped from that. We wanted to make sure that didn’t happen by putting the pressure on them and to make them be the ones that have to make plays down the stretch while we do a good job defending.”