Fort Wayne Mad Ants Get Revenge Against Vipers
After the Fort Wayne Mad Ants lost to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers the night before, the Mad Ants claimed victory by the final score of 128-123. Andre Emmett led all scorers with 35 points and was unstoppable throughout the game. Erick Green also stepped up and performed well for the second game in a row, contributing 22 points, 3 rebound and 2 steals.
This time around the first quarter was fast-paced and all offense. The Rio Grande Valley Vipers looked like they wanted to strike first and often, with Isaiah Canaan firing from beyond the three-point arc as much as possible. Canaan made three of them in the first quarter. Not to be outdone, Emmett charged the rim without fear in the first half, but Clint Capela—a 6’10” emerging D-League star—defended the basket with impunity, making it difficult to score. It was obvious that the Mad Ants had made adjustments on defense. Gary Talton began to take on the challenge of guarding the top prospect Canaan, and by the second quarter, he had gone cold. Also, Emmett and Talton took turns shutting down Canaan and that slowed down the Viper’s offense for the moment.
In the second quarter, the Mad Ants had a strategy. With Capela shutting down the paint, they had to start firing from the outside and making them count. CJ Fair came off of the bench and once again showed off his undervalued mid-range jump shot. He was 6 for 13 from the field and made 2 of his 4 three pointers, which is another skill he is improving. Whenever Capela was resting, the Mad Ants vigorously drove to the rim at will, and their efforts produced many free throw opportunities, if not easier baskets.
Despite the Mad Ants new strategy, the Vipers held the lead at 59-56. For the beginning of the second half the Vipers switched their starting line up to insert another D-League top prospect Glen Rice Jr. With both Rice and Capela on the floor at the same time, the Mad Ants were presented a serious challenge, but they were up for it. Marcus Simmons shot very well for the Mad Ants, making both of his three pointers as well as going 6 for 9 from the field. Travis Hyman played one of the best games of the season, snagging 8 rebounds, scoring 13 points and having 4 blocks overall.
By the fourth quarter, it was basically Glen Rice Jr. versus Andre Emmett. Rice showed his ability to shoot from any spot on the floor, as well as his athleticism. Rice was adamant about taking over the game, with emphatic dunks and fade-away jumpers that miraculously sank into the net. He was 7 for 12 and made 7 of his 9 free throws, giving him 23 points. However, Emmett played like a man possessed in the fourth. At times, he would take on the entire Viper starting five to get his way. It was effective, because he was fouled often and capitalized on them. Emmett was a perfect 14 for 14 on free throws and that ultimately decided the game.
The Vipers are now 12-13, which puts them below .500 as they remain at the bottom of the Southwest Division. The Fort Wayne Mad Ants are 17-11 and atop the Central Division.
By Joshua Hamer