Playing two games in less than 24 hours is never an easy task, but big second half performances by Kay Felder and Mike Williams propelled the Canton Charge to a 120-112 victory over the Westchester Knicks on Sunday afternoon.
As the game got underway, both the Charge and the Knicks traded baskets early on. At the first timeout midway through the opening quarter Westchester held a slim one-point advantage over Canton 11-10. After the timeout, Westchester went on a 10-2 run to extend their lead to 21-12 over Canton.
Poor shooting doomed the Charge in the first quarter, as they managed to shoot just 29 percent from the floor and only 1-9 (11 percent) from beyond the arc. However, the Knicks shot 42 percent from the floor and also shot 3-8 from beyond the arc. As a result of the shootings disparities, the Knicks led 27-18 after the first 12 minutes of play.
Canton’s offense came to life in the second quarter, they shot 13-22 from the field and scored 31 points. However, the area that hurt the Charge for much of the first half was the defensive side of the ball. Westchester’s offense was clicking on all cylinders as well; the Knicks scored 32 points in the second quarter and led 59-49 at halftime.
Knicks guard John Jenkins shot 7-9 from the field in the first half and led all scorers with 15 points. Charge guard John Holland led the team with 11 points, but only shot 5-14 from the field. If Canton was going to get a critical victory today, the defense would have to step up and stop the Knicks from scoring at will.
Charge head coach Nate Reinking attributed the team’s slow start to the fact that they had played a game the night before and players were still feeling the effects of that game.
“We just started defending more,” Reinking said. “We defended more, we communicated more and that just leads to the easy baskets and once we got those easy baskets, it just kind of opened up for us.”
Canton came out at the start of the third quarter and was quickly able to cut the Knicks lead to just six points, 68-62, at the first timeout of the half. But just like the first half, Westchester responded to that run from the Charge with a 14-7 run of their own to go back up by double digits 82-69.
Toward the end of the quarter Canton began to find their rhythm that they had been missing for much of the afternoon. In the final 3:19 of the third quarter the Charge offense, led by Felder and Roosevelt Jones, cut the from 13 points down to just five.
That spark to end the third quarter carried over into the fourth quarter for Canton. The Charge blitzed Westchester in the first six minutes of the quarter and before the Knicks knew what had hit them, Canton went on a 26-10 run and led 108-97.
Felder was huge throughout the entire fourth quarter as he scored nine of his team high 26 points in the final frame. What is even more impressive about this performance is that less than 24 hours earlier, the rookie guard scored 41 against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
“I got a couple easy shots, a couple easy layups and was able to get to the foul line a couple times, which got me going,” Felder said. “I just believed in myself and I knew we were going to win the game, it was just a matter of when we would make that extra push.”
However, the Knicks would not go away quietly and answered the Charge run, with a run of their own, cutting their lead to just five points in the final two minutes. Though Westchester rallied, Canton was able to secure the victory with clutch free throw shooting. As the final buzzer sounded the Charge walked off the floor with a hard-earned 120-112 victory.
A key to Canton’s 71 point second half was Williams, who scored 14 points and drained four well-timed three pointers to propel the Charge on their big second half comeback.
“The game definitely started to open up for me a lot more, I found myself getting open a lot more and finding good looks and I had to knock them down,” Williams said. “And once I got through the first two I just kept shooting and hoped that everything would keep falling.”
The Charge, who are winners of their last six games, will welcome the Austin Spurs to town this Saturday afternoon and follow it up with a game the next day when they face the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.