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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette IPFW men’s basketball head coach Jon Coffman gets the team and spectators on their feet during Thursday night’s Mastodon Madness at the Hilliard Gates Sports Center.

  • IPFW transfer DeAngelo Stewart works on his dunking skills that helped him win Thursday night’s slam dunk contest.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Kamilah Carter leads the IPFW women’s basketball team onto the floor for Thursday night’s Mastodon Madness at Hilliard Gates Sports Center. The event showcases the men’s and women’s teams to fans, kicking off the season for each.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Clark Bockelman, 1, right, won tickets to the Star Wars Premier for having the best Star Wars costume at Thursday night's Mastadon Madness at IPFW.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 5:19 pm

IPFW puts on festive show

Chris Goff | The Journal Gazette

For DeAngelo Stewart, Mastodon Madness was more than the unofficial start to the IPFW basketball season. The transfer guard from Northwest Tech (Kansas) relished his first introduction to the fans and also won the dunk contest.

"It was exciting," Stewart said. "It was very fun to meet a lot of new faces and sign a lot of autographs. Coming from a junior college, this is very new to most of us, especially me."

It was a festive night Thursday at the Hilliard Gates Sports Center, as Stewart’s coach, Jon Coffman, led the crowd in arm stretches and the women’s coaching staff dressed in Star Wars costumes for Halloween.

Children in attendance went trick-or-treating about midway through the event, though the best disguise was Stewart’s.

That’s because he said he didn’t practice at all for the dunk contest, which he won by holding off Charles Ruise Jr. in the championship round.

Four judges scored the contestants on a scale of 1-10, and Stewart had the best mark in the first round when four competitors each got a single attempt. Stewart scored a 38.

Ruise and Filip Serwatka each had a 37, and Ruise won a playoff 39-32 to move on.

Freshman John Konchar did not receive a score in the first round because he could not complete a dunk in the allotted 30 seconds. He tried to take a pass off the back of the backboard and bring it around.

"I tell all the guys do something you can make on the first one," Coffman said with a smile. "John was obsessed with doing one of the hardest dunks I’ve ever seen."

Ruise took an incomplete on his second dunk of the final round. Both he and Stewart earned a 36 on their first. Stewart’s winner was a 37.

Coffman said Stewart, a 6-foot-6 small forward who played the 2013-14 season at Alabama State, should be one of the Mastodons’ best long-range shooters, a strength Stewart mentioned, as well.

"I can do basically anything out there. Whatever coaches ask me to do," Stewart said.

Other winners Thursday were Allyson Bunch, who beat Max Landis 12-11 in the men-vs.-women 3-point contest.

And in the 3-point teams contest, junior Mo Evans and senior Kamilah Carter enjoyed a 17-11 triumph over Kason Harrell and Courtney Ogle.

Ogle, a senior from Columbus, was chosen to address the crowd after the women were introduced and asked for strong attendance, saying, "We have a lot of big games this year at home, especially against IU."

The schedule was also something Coffman pointed out in his brief speech.

"Of my five-year tenure, this is the most difficult schedule we’ve had," he said. "We lost three of the best players to play in an IPFW jersey. But we have a lot of experience coming back and eight talented newcomers."

Afterward, Coffman met with the media and elaborated further on schedule strength.

"We try and do that every year," he said. "It’s hard to find games. Every time you challenge yourself, it creates phenomenal opportunities."

Helping lead Coffman’s crew in practice will be Bryson Scott, the former Northrop star who transferred from Purdue and will have to sit out this season because of NCAA rules.

Like Stewart, Scott is new to IPFW. But Scott’s song in introductions at Mastodon Madness – Skylar Grey’s "Coming Home" – showed the difference between the two.

"He brings a competitive edge to our practices," Coffman said. "We’re very excited to have him back here in Fort Wayne. He’s going to bring energy to the games."

cgoff@jg.net