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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, December 30, 2017 9:20 pm

Mad Ants get back on track, win

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The Mad Ants got balanced scoring tonight. And maybe they got back on track.

They beat the Grand Rapids Drive 118-117, snapping a stretch that had seen them lose four straight games and 8 of 9.

The Mad Ants (12-10) got 30 points from Walt Lemon Jr., 20 from Stephan Hicks and 20 from DeQuan Jones.

Grand Rapids (11-12) was led by Landry Nnoko’s 27 points.

An announced crowd of 2,735 attended the game on 90’s/Nickelodeon Night, with the Mad Ants wearing “Rugrats” themed uniforms.

As the Mad Ants missed six of their first 10 shots, Grand Rapids opened the game with a 13-4 run that culminated with a 3-pointer by former Fort Wayne player Marcus Simmons with 9:08 left in the first quarter.

The Mad Ants answered, though, and Lemon’s steal under his own basket set up Ben Moore for a drive on which he drew a foul and made two free throws for a 20-19 Fort Wayne lead. Teammate Jarrod Uthoff’s thunderous dunk with 1:10 left in the quarter put the Mad Ants ahead 29-23.

Hicks went end to end for a one-handed dunk and a 53-49 Fort Wayne lead with 3:01 left in the second quarter. But a Hicks foul put Nnoko on the foul line, he made 1 of 2, and the Drive took a 54-53 lead with 1:08 on the clock.

The Drive opened the third quarter with a 15-7 run, culminating with K.J. McDaniels’ 3-pointer from the corner, for a 71-63 lead, as Nnoko racked up 21 points by making nine of his first 12 shots.

Another McDaniels 3 put the Drive ahead 98-92 with 9:22 left in the fourth.

A fastbreak ended with a Jones pass to Hicks for a layup that tied it at 107 with 3:53 left and, on the next possession, Trey McKinney Jones’ drive put Fort Wayne up 109-107.

The Drive immediately answered with a Marcus Thornton 3-pointer, but Ben Moore’s 3 put Fort Wayne up 114-110 with 2:14 left.

With Fort Wayne up 118-117, Lemon lost control of the ball while driving toward the Grand Rapids basket with 12 seconds left, though McKinney Jones swatted a Drive pass out of bounds.

Still, the Drive had 6.8 seconds left to in-bound the ball underneath the Fort Wayne basket with a chance to win. Derek Willis missed a 3-point attempt and McDaniels the put-back.

jcohn@jg.net