ASU’s Canty, Obacha enjoy victorious homecoming
Jay Canty smiled a sheepish smile as he looked back at the Appalachian State bench.
Canty, the High Point resident who played at Ragsdale before transferring to Oak Ridge, appeared to be headed for a fast-break dunk to help seal a win over UNC Greensboro when he lost control of the ball and settled for a layup.
“Aw, man,” Canty said. “I think I got a little too excited. I knew what I wanted to do. The coach was yelling from the sidelines, ‘go dunk the ball, go dunk the ball.’ I tripped over my own two feet.”
Canty had little else to be embarrassed about. He led the Mountaineers with 17 points and nine rebounds as he and Michael Obacha, the High Point Christian Academy grad who also spent time at Oak Ridge and scored 11, enjoyed a homecoming as they made key plays as the Mountaineers pulled away for a 76-68 triumph on Sunday at the Greensboro Coliseum.
“I took it personal being able to come home and play in front of family; I felt real comfortable,” Canty said.
Canty and Obacha, along with another ASU starter and former Oak Ridge player, Mike Neal, felt comfortable because they were on familiar territory, having playing in the Coliseum while in high school.
“It’s hard for people to come up the mountain to watch games,” Neal said. “We got all our friends and family to come to the game. That’s why it was important for us.”
They left happy in a large part as a result of the Mountaineers stretching a 56-55 lead with just under six minutes left to a 65-57 cushion with 3:37 to play.
Canty, who is playing with a hard medical device around his thumb to protect ligament damage, started the run with a 3-pointer from the corner. On the Mountainners’ next possession, he got one of his six assists by feeding the ball to Tevin Baskin for a dunk. Nathan Healy scored two of his 16 points on a layup and Jamaal Trice bagged a jumper to end the streak.
Obacha, who grabbed eight rebounds and has not been known as a scorer, then contributed a layup, two fouls shots on four tries and a dunk. Neal added two free throws to cap a 10-point day.
Canty also helped the Mountaineers (12-14, 8-7 Southern Conference) get out of the gate, scoring seven points and dishing two assists as the ASU shot out to leads of 17-5 and 19-8 during the first seven minutes before UNCG (7-18, 5-9) pulled within two.
Canty, who sat out last season after transferring from Xavier, came into the game as ASU’s second leading scorer with a 14.2 average and was the second-leading rebounder with a 6.2 average. He raised his assist total for the season to a team-leading 72.
“I’ve gotten better guarding the basketball and getting in the lane and finding guys,” Canty said. “A lot of guys have been converging in as I drive to the basket and that was leading to offensive fouls, Now, I’m getting to my spots and finding guys a lot better.
Said ASU coach Jason Capel: “He can get anything he wants in this league as long as he doesn’t settle for jump shots. When he shoots a jump shot, he lets the defense off the hook.”
Obacha came into the game averaging 4.8 points and 4.5 rebounds. But, he came away Sunday with his second double-figure scoring effort in three games.
“I try to comfortable and take the nervousness away. I owe to my teammates and my coaches for believing in me. They show that they believe in me so why should in myself. It’s all about being confident and knowing that I can do it.”
He has been in the starting lineup since the second game.
“I never pictured me starting before the beginning of the season,” Obacha said. “But it happened and I appreciate that.”
Said Capel: “The thing you’ll get from Obacha is maximum effort. He’s gotten better because he works hard. He’s gotten better at finishing around the basket. Just the effort, the mental aspect it takes to be a Division I player. He’s gotten better at that.”