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The Journal Gazette

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants guard Walter Lemon Jr. goes up for a basket Friday at Memorial Coliseum against defending-champion Raptors 905, while he's defended by Kaza Keane, left, and Richard Amardi, right. 

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants forward C.J. Fair is given some encouragement by coach Steve Gansey as he comes to the bench for a rest Friday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants guard Walter Lemon Jr., right, goes up for a layup while ducking his head to avoid the arm of Raptors 905's Bruno Caboclo, a former Fort Wayne player. 

Friday, November 10, 2017 11:10 pm

Mad Ants' defense dominates Raptors 905

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The Mad Ants’ 104-77 victory tonight over Raptors 905 was pretty darned decisive. The Mad Ants pretty much had their way with the visitors offensively – Walter Lemon Jr. had 21 points, Je’lon Hornbeak 18, Stephan Hicks 17, Jarrod Uthoff 12 – but it was the defensive prowess that was most impressive.

And it’s the second straight game that has been the theme.

Raptors 905 shot only 36.6 from the field and was 2 of 16 from 3-point range.

“That was the best defensive effort I’ve seen in a long time (from) the Mad Ants,” Gansey said. “(To allow) 36 percent (shooting) to a really, really good half-court basketball team, and hold them to only two made 3s, that’s tough in this league to defend like that.”

So what’s making the Mad Ants’ so good defensively? They’ve instinctive defensive players, and that includes the rookies. They’ve got length. And most of all, they’ve been switching a lot and that’s been causing fits for opponents.

Hornbeak is a player to watch, after he had 15 first-half points and got to the free-throw line a game-high nine times and made them all. Gansey envisions the rookie from Monmouth (he also played at Oklahoma) to fill the void left by Nick Zeisloft.

The Mad Ants outscored the Raptors by 27 points with Hornbeak on the floor, which is pretty good for a rookie coming off the bench in his third game.

Tra-Deon Hollins was the rookie who got all the hype but he played only 15:07 tonight, while Hornbeak, who attended an open tryout to get his invitation to training camp, played 28:51.

jcohn@jg.net