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  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Alex Poythress jumps up to shoot the ball during the first half of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Windy City Bulls at the Memorial Coliseum on Saturday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Julyan Stone, right, tries to block Windy City's Spencer Dinwiddie from moving with the ball during the first half of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Windy City Bulls at the Memorial Coliseum on Saturday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Julyan Stone, left, lifts the ball up to the basket as Windy City's Coreantae DeBerry tries to stop him during the first half of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Windy City Bulls at the Memorial Coliseum on Saturday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Julyan Stone runs up to the hoop during the first half of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Windy City Bulls at the Memorial Coliseum on Saturday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Stephan Hicks, left, runs with the ball as Windy City's Aaron Thomas tries to keep up during the first half of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Windy City Bulls at the Memorial Coliseum on Saturday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette From right: Mad Ants' Alex Poythress moves with the ball as Windy City's Spencer Dinwiddie and J.J. Avila look on during the first half of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Windy City Bulls at the Memorial Coliseum on Saturday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Alex Poythress, left, tries to find an opening around Windy City's Alec Brown under the hoop during the first half of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Windy City Bulls at the Memorial Coliseum on Saturday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Alex Poythress, right, tries to hold onto the ball as Windy City's Alfonzo McKinnie tries to knock the ball out of his hand during the first half of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Windy City Bulls at the Memorial Coliseum on Saturday. GALLERY

Saturday, December 03, 2016 6:33 pm

Mad Ants rally for win, 7-1 start

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

The Mad Ants’ first loss of the season was followed by a resounding 95-83 victory tonight. Led by Alex Poythress’ 18 points and 10 rebounds, they defeated the Windy City Bulls at Memorial Coliseum and continued the best start to a season in their 10-year history.

The Mad Ants (7-1) were coming off a 109-107 loss to Raptors 905 in Mississauga, Ontario, after their six-game winning streak to start the season tied the league record set by Westchester last year.

“Anytime we can get a win after a loss, it’s a pretty good response,” said Poythress, a rookie out of Kentucky. “We didn’t feel we played our best game. We’ve been grinding it out and we got a W today and that’s how you want to respond.”

(Video highlights of Poythress' game are above.)

Travis Leslie had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Trey McKinney Jones had 14 points. And Stephan Hicks had 13, as Fort Wayne recovered from a 10-point second-quarter deficit.

“Our leaders stepped up. Trey and Travis and Julyan (Stone) got together and looked at us like, ‘We’ve got to start playing defense. We’re getting away from playing defense. We need to get some stops,’” Poythress said. “We can score, but defense is the best offense and we need to get some stops.”

Windy City (5-4), an expansion team, had won its previous four games.

A thunderous dunk by Alfonzo McKinnie put the Bulls up 33-24 with nine minutes left in the second quarter, seconds after former Purdue player Jon Octeus checked into a game at the Coliseum for the first time. Octeus played 12:29 and had two points on 1-of-3 shooting.

J.J. Avila’s 3-pointer put Windy City up 44-34 with 5:55 left in the second quarter, in front of 2,794 fans on Indiana Pacers night with their mascot, Boomer, on hand.

But the Mad Ants finished the half on a 16-3 run, culminating with a Leslie underhand lay-up through a crowd, a McKinney Jones put-back dunk and a Leslie 3-pointer, to take a 50-47 lead.

In the half, Poythress had 12 points – he was 10 for 10 on free-throw attempts – and six rebounds.

A Hicks dunk, after a dish from McKinney Jones, answered a rally by Windy City early in the third quarter and put Fort Wayne up 56-51. A Jordan Loyd 3-pointer made it 69-57 with 2:50 left in the quarter. And Poythress’ put-back with 7:20 left in the game put Fort Wayne up 81-68.

Early in the game, Stone wore a headband that read, “RIP Cam Moore.” Moore, a former player at Alabama-Birmingham, died in October in Macedonia at 25 during his first practice with AV Ohrid.

jcohn@jg.net