While the cold winds of winter howled outside, it was a jovial and cordial atmosphere inside Canton Memorial Civic Center. Players from both teams shook hands all around and as play began there was less brutal play then has been exhibited in previous games. Even when the inevitable collisions occurred and bodies hit the floor, helpful hands from both teams reached out to get the players on their feet. This was true sportsmanship and something that needs to be seen more often.
Defense was the key as the Charge set a new franchise record for least allowed points scored by an opponent in a game as 78-69 was the final tally for the evening. This beats the previous record of 80 points scored against the Charge during a victory that also belongs to the Charge for two contests this season.
The first quarter went by quickly as both teams were hit and miss on their ends of the arena and ended in a dead heat of 22-22 at the buzzer. The Charge could only manage 33% from the floor but made up for it with nine offensive rebounds that rewarded them with 14 after the fact points.
The second quarter went better for the home team with the men in gold sinking 11 of 23 for 48% and 23 points. Strong play under the Fort Wayne basket kept the Mad Ants to a season low (for a Charge opponent) 13 points 5-of-20 or 25% as Canton left the arena for the mid game break with a 45-35 lead.
Things evened up in the third as Canton dropped a point in the lead to nine as they began the fourth quarter with a 61-52 advantage. It began to get dramatic as the Charge failed to capitalize on their shooting while some improbable shots by Fort Wayne managed to clear the hoop and brought them within three. The Charge regrouped during a timeout and demonstrated their prowess with a 5-0 run to regain a 71-63 margin.
Just as it looked as if the Charge could relax and cruise to the finish, the Mad Ants
made one last desperate 6-1 run cutting the lead once more to 3 with a scant 2:13 left in the game. With a series of crowd cheering blocks, Canton effectively shut down the scoring at the Mad Ants end of the court while dropping in a 6-0 run to assure their victory. The win puts Canton at the 15-10 mark while Fort Wayne drops to 11-13. This is the ninth win for the Charge out of the last eleven contests.
Rejoining the team, Kevin Jones came and scored 25 points on 12-of-25 shooting with 11 rebounds, two blocks and one steal in 40 minutes for his fifth double-double in just six games with Canton this season. JaJuan Johnson came off the bench to provide 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting with nine rebounds, four assists and three steals in 25 minutes. Kyle Gibson added 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists in 41 minutes. Jorge Gutierrez scored seven points with nine rebounds, four assists and three steals in 28 minutes.
Fort Wayne was led by Anthony Richardson’s 17 points, nine rebounds and three steals in 38 minutes. Luke Harangody had a double-double of 11 points and ten rebounds in 33 minutes. Anthony Harris poured in 10 points with nine rebounds and two steals in 44 minutes. Off the bench, Tommy Smith scored seven points with eight rebounds and three blocks in 24 minutes. Fort Wayne outrebounded Canton 56-51 in the game. The Mad Ants’ 31% shooting from the floor on 27-of-87 attempts was also a Charge opponent franchise low for field goal percentage in a game.
Canton will next head to Des Moines for a meeting with the Iowa Energy on Friday, January 25th at 8:00 p.m. The Charge will next be at home on Saturday, January 26th at 7:30 p.m. against the Energy for Cavs Night. The game will feature a commemorative t-shirt giveaway presented by the Ohio Lottery, appearances from the entire Cavs game entertainment crew as well as Cavs legends Larry Nance, Bobby “Bingo” Smith and more! Tickets start as low as $7 and fans can receive more information by heading to www.CantonCharge.com.
CANTON CHARGE POSTGAME QUOTES
CHARGE HEAD COACH ALEX JENSEN
(On tonight’s game): “Anytime we shoot 37 percent as a team and win you have to feel good. The defense was really good, the guys played hard. I think that’s the most offensive rebounds we’ve given up was 20 tonight. If we are shooting in the mid-thirties and still won the game, we are doing something right. There are a lot of things we have to get better at offensively. I think the guys played hard. The last couple games at the end, we locked down got the stops and rebounds to get the win, so I give our guys all the credit in the world. I think Fort Wayne did a good job, they just came off a long road trip and that’s really hard. JaJuan (Johnson) was seeing the ball and made a good play (down the stretch). I give all of our guys credit.”
(On reaching the halfway point of the season): “I think we’ve gotten a lot better since the beginning. Obviously after tonight, we won which is great, but there are a lot of things we can improve on. I’m pleased. There are like one or two games that we didn’t deserve to win, but we won. There are at least four or five that we totally beat ourselves with leads in the fourth quarter. Then again, you don’t dwell on that. You remember it and take it and not make the same mistakes.”
F JAJUAN JOHNSON
(On getting the win tonight despite shooting under 40 percent from the floor): “There are going to be nights like this and the biggest thing was that we hung in there defensively. Our team really played hard and stuck together even though the buckets weren’t falling. We hung in on our defensive end and that’s what really got us this win.”
(On playing against his old team): “I was just excited to play against Fort Wayne and to see familiar faces. Obviously, you want to play good. It’s one of those things where I think I’m going to start getting more comfortable with these guys and the offense. Hopefully, it just doesn’t stop here.”