The Canton Charge had recently made a habit of jumping out to big first half leads only to falter in the third quarter. On Saturday night the Charge were the team coming from behind in the third quarter trying to overcome a 15 point halftime deficit. Unfortunately John Holland’s game tying three point attempt with 1.9 seconds to go was halfway down before rolling out and Sioux Falls (15-15) escaped with a 103-100 victory at the Civic Center.
Sioux Falls got off to a hot start in the first quarter as they shot 58% from the field and jumped out to a 12 point lead at 37-25. Former Cleveland Cavalier Alonzo Gee put up nine first quarter points for the Skyforce. Caleb Swanigan scored six points off the bench to lead Canton.
The Skyforce cooled off in the second quarter but unfortunately so did the Charge. Sioux Falls shot 23% in the quarter but Canton was only able to connect on 25% of their shots. Needless to say it was a low scoring quarter as Sioux Falls outscored the Charge 19-16 to take a 56-41 lead into halftime. John Holland scored six points to lead Canton in the second quarter to give him nine first half points. No Charge player scored in double figures in the first half. Alonzo Gee had 12 first half points for Sioux Falls.
Canton charged back in the third quarter as Marcus Thornton went on a scoring spree. He scored the first eight points of the quarter for Canton and 15 points in total for the third quarter giving him 20 points for the game. His hot shooting and the inside play of Cavs assignee Ante Zizic (six points) led Canton to a 31 point quarter cutting the Skyforce lead to 78-72 heading to the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter provided the 2,743 fans in attendance at the Canton Civic Center a lot of excitement. Sioux Falls got off to a quick start as Matt Williams Jr. hit back to back three point shots giving the Skyforce an 84-72 lead and prompting a quick timeout by Charge coach Nate Reinking. Canton then started slowly chipping away at the deficit as Marcus Thornton continued his hot second half. He hit two big three point shots late the first of which brought the Charge within one at 96-95 with 2:20 to play in the game. Sioux Falls was able to push the lead back out to six at 103-97 on two Rodney Pryor free throws with 40.8 seconds to play. Marcus Thornton then hit the biggest shot of the game as he converted a corner three off of a pass from Caleb Swanigan making it a three point game at 103-100 with 31 seconds to go in the game. Larry Drew II missed a 16′ jump shot for Sioux Falls and Swanigan grabbed the rebound calling a timeout with 9.7 seconds to play. John Holland’s game tying step back three point shot rolled around the rim, hit the glass and rolled back over the rim before falling off and the ball was knocked away as time expired.
“The first quarter that was the game right there,” said Reinking. “You are playing catch up the whole time and anytime we got close they answered with a three.”
Marcus Thornton had a career game as he scored 30 points in the second half. Coach Reinking was asked if he asked Thornton to be more aggressive at halftime.
“No that’s just Marcus,” said Reinking. “He’s a shot maker and if it doesn’t go down he will keep shooting until it does go down.”
Thornton shared those same sentiments about not changing his mentality in the second half.
“Nothing really changed,” said Thornton. “I thought I had some good looks in the first half but I missed some easy one’s. I just tried to stay within myself and within the team and stay aggressive the whole game.”
Thornton led Canton with his career high 35 points on 7/12 from three point range. John Holland dropped in 24 points. After struggling in the first half Ante Zizic finished strong with nine points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. Caleb Swanigan had nine points and 11 rebounds off the bench.
Former Cavalier Alonzo Gee led Sioux Falls with 23 points on 7/8 shooting (3/3 from three). Big man A.J. Hammons had 15 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks.
The Charge (11-17) will look to regroup on Tuesday as they travel to White Plains, NY to face the first place Westchester Knicks.