For the second straight game the Canton Charge (8-14) played a first place team close to the end but once again fell short 95-90 to the Westchester Knicks (17-9) on Friday night in Canton. Poor execution down the stretch in the final two minutes of the game doomed the Charge.
Canton got off to a hot start in the first quarter as Caleb Swanigan went to work down low scoring nine points and grabbing five rebounds in the quarter. The Charge jumped out to a 28-19 lead after one quarter hitting on 10-19 (53%) from the floor. Former Utah Jazz first round pick Trey Burke dropped 10 first quarter points for the Knicks.
The second quarter was a disaster for the Charge. The Knicks turned up their offense that came into the game averaging 107.9 points per game. After a Ante Zizic dunk gave the Charge their biggest lead of the game at 30-19 the Knicks went on a 17-6 run to tie the game at 36 with 6:44 to play in the half. Westchester took a 49-43 lead into the half. The Charge cooled off mightily in the 2nd quarter as they hit on only 6-18 (33%) from the field missing on all four three point attempts. The Knicks shot 61%.
The third quarter belonged to Marcus Thornton as he hit four three’s and scored 16 of Canton’s 22 third quarter points including the final 11 going into halftime. His scoring run cut the Knicks lead to 68-65 after three quarters. Trey Burke put up seven points to lead the Knicks in the third.
The fourth quarter was very competetive and tightly contested as the game was tied six times through the first eight minutes. The game was decided in the final two minutes. Caleb Swanigan hit a 12′ jump shot with 2:41 to go in the game that put the Charge up 87-84. The next five Charge possessions resulted in four turnovers and a missed three point shot. Unfortunately in that stretch the Knicks scored seven straight points and essentially put the game away leading 93-87 with 28.7 seconds to play.
The loss was Canton’s fourth straight and seventh in the last nine games. It was the second straight game where failed execution late resulted in close losses to two division leading teams. I asked coach Nate Reinking after the game about competing but coming up short against top teams the past two games.
“If you look back we have competed well against all of the better teams that we have played,” said Reinking. “You better believe you can win. I can’t put my finger on anything else. We’re in position for quite a few games now and they’re coming down to this type of game. You just have to believe and make a play when you have to make a play.”
It was another sloppy game as the Charge turned it over 22 times. Marcus Thornton held the team in the game in that third quarter but committed two crucial turnovers in the final two minutes.
“I can’t have those two turnovers late,” said Thornton. “That was crucial and that really hurt us. We just have to start taking better care of the ball and really to a man making sure we take care of that in the future.”
Thornton led the Charge with 27 points hitting on 10-15 from the field including 6-9 from three. Caleb Swanigan notched his second straight double/double with 16 points and 19 rebounds. In four games with Canton Swanigan is averaging 17.8 points and 13.5 rebounds. Jacorey Williams also had a nice game with 19 points with some strong play inside. Ante Zizic and Kevin Olekaibe each chipped in 10 points off the bench.
Trey Burke led the Knicks attack with 23 points and 5 assists. New York Knicks two-way player Isaiah Hicks had 16 points and seven rebounds.
Canton heads to Grand Rapids, MI tonight to face the Grand Rapids Drive at 7:00 pm before heading to the G-League showcase in Toronto next week.