Fort Wayne Mad Ants Win in Maine
The Fort Wayne Mad Ants defeated the Maine Red Claws on their home court Saturday, by the final score of 109-104. The score was not very close in the first three quarters, as the Mad Ants led the game convincingly from the opening possession. Andre Emmett led the team in scoring, putting up 32 points, while Gary Talton was the second leading scorer with 18 points. CJ Fair and Will Sheehey contributed nicely as well, adding 13 and 15 points respectively.
The first half was all Mad Ants. They were scoring from anywhere they wanted and were barely being contested. Emmett spent much of the game driving one-on-one against defenders to the hoop, and the Red Claws had no answer for him at all. CJ Fair started to become more aggressive as the game went on, and with his minutes increasing skills are developing. He shot 6 for 9 from the field and made a three-pointer late in the game, as well as grabbing 7 rebounds. For the Red Claws, their bread and butter is team play and three-point shooting. Neither seemed to be occurring in the first half. Former Penn State University point guard Tim Frazier had 5 turnovers in the game, and continued to force shots up that were not falling. Red Claws shooting guard Andre Dawkins, who usually is their ace jump shooter, struggled to find his rhythm. The Mad Ants outscored the Red Claws 64-44 with all signs pointing to a blowout.
The third quarter seemed to be more of the same at first, but former University of Kentucky small forward James Young seemed to come from out of nowhere, raining threes whenever he set his feet. Young’s talent and potential shined through in spurts, showing his athletic ability and speed off the dribble. Off of the bench, Omari Johnson played much more soundly in the second half, shooting 10 for 15 and snagging 10 rebounds. In response, the Mad Ants’ Talton was locked in from the mid-range spots and also made 2 threes. Emmett continued his headstrong play, bulldozing his way into the paint against three defenders at times. The Mad Ants led by as much as 22-points late in the game, with the score 85-63.
Instead of giving up and taking an imminent loss, the Red Claws woke up in the fourth quarter. Tim Frazier distributed the ball quite often to Johnson, Young, and fellow guard Dawkins. Frazier ended up dishing out 16 assists, giving him a double-double on the night. Young, Dawkins and Johnson lived up to the hype and became dangerously hot from outside. Dawkins and Johnson each made 5 three-pointers, while Young connected on 9 of them. This sudden rush of firepower quickly cut the deficit from 22 points to 5 points. Both teams went back and forth, until Emmett drew a foul to get two shots from the free throw line. Then, after a Mad Ants timeout, Will Sheehey re-entered the game. He shot 60 percent in the game for 15 points, and hustled in every way possible to keep the team going. He had 5 rebounds, 1 assist, and was perfect from the free throw line in 29 minutes. Sheehey, with his best play so far in his D-League career, made a clutch three-pointer to essentially seal the game.
The Maine Red Claws are now 18-9. They are still atop the Atlantic Division, but fall to the third-best team in the D-League after this loss and the Austin Spurs win. The Mad Ants are currently in second place in the Central division behind the Sioux Falls Skyforce, who have been on a 5-game win streak.
By Joshua Hamer