DeAndre Liggins made the big plays for Sioux Falls in the Skyforce’s 2-1 opening-round series victory over Canton. The former Kentucky player averaged 16.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists as he hit 50 percent of his shots from the floor and 55 percent of his 3-pointers.
(Canton coach) Steve Hetzel said he was a pro, Mad Ants coach Conner Henry said Tuesday as his team prepared to face Sioux Falls in the first game of the semifinals tonight. He hit big shots and he hit multiple 3s. He hit timely shots and made timely passes and got stops on the defensive end. He’s probably, arguably, their MVP, and we’ve got to do a good job on him.
The Mad Ants will use a combination of Sadiel Rojas, Tony Mitchell, Trey McKinney Jones and Matt Bouldin – who combined for 18 steals in an opening-round sweep of Reno – to defend Liggins.
Mitchell and Bouldin were the Mad Ants’ leading scorers against Reno with Mitchell averaging 19 points and Bouldin 16.
Other players to watch: Skyforce point guards Tre Kelley and Larry Drew combined to average 9.3 assists in the opening round, and Kelley led Sioux Falls with 17.7 points per game. Drew averaged 4.3 points in the first round. Ron Howard (15 points per game), Rojas (14.5), Will Frisby (12), McKinney Jones (11.5) and Tim Ohlbrecht (10) joined Mitchell and Bouldin as players who averaged double figures for the Mad Ants in the opening round. Sioux Falls forwards Craig Smith, Anthony Mason Jr . and Henry Walker combined to average 38.6 points and 10.3 rebounds against Canton. Rojas, Frisby and Ohlbrecht combined to average 22.5 rebounds for the Mad Ants in the first round.
The Mad Ants went 3-2 against Sioux Falls in the regular season. Sioux Falls won the first two games, 114-110 and 103-101, and Fort Wayne won the next three, 93-81, 89-83 and 103-96. The Mad Ants averaged 46 rebounds in their two-game sweep of Reno. The Skyforce averaged 27.3 rebounds and gave up 48.3 rebounds to Canton. The Mad Ants averaged 106 points and gave up 94.5 points in two games against Reno. Sioux Falls averaged 92.3 points and gave up 93 points in three games against Canton.
Prediction: Mad Ants win in two games