Much has changed for the Mad Ants in the last eight days. They have won four straight games – including back-to-back victories over the previously-one-loss Canton Charge – to get them back to .500 and show they could be a factor as the D-League season develops.
On Sunday, the Mad Ants beat Canton 88-85, led by Ron Howard's 20 points and Trey McKinney-Jones' 19.
It came a night after Fort Wayne went on the road to defeat Canton 106-102 in overtime.
It seems that coach Conner Henry, in his first season with Fort Wayne, is seeing his plans come together – just a little later than he'd hoped.
The Mad Ants (5-5) were down 23-16 late in the first quarter, but Alfred Aboya's put-back at the buzzer started a run that got them the lead.
A 3-pointer by Bennie Lewis III, who is from Fort Wayne, cut the deficit to two and then free throws by Sadiel Rojas and Lewis tied it at 23. A Kyle Randall 3-pointer, followed by layups from Randall and two from Chris Porter, put the Mad Ants ahead 35-25 with 6:59 remaining in the second quarter.
The lead was cut to four points in the third quarter, but Howard dashed the hopes of Canton (8-3) with a 3-point play; he drove to the basket and was fouled but a blind shot as he fell to the floor went in for a 63-52 Mad Ants lead with 3:57 remaining. Howard's 3-pointer as the shot clock expired on the next possession made it 65-54.
That lead would be propelled to 17 points, and Canton was clearly frustrated; it got four technical fouls for arguing with officials. But the Charge got within two points before a Howard steal and layup for a 84-78 lead put it out of reach with 1:14 remaining.
The Mad Ants cut guard Anthony Harris, who had averaged 7.4 points and 3.1 assists but had been passed on the depth chart by Randall. He had one of his finer games Sunday – scoring 10 points in 23.4 minutes after coming in with averages of 4.4 points and 18.8 minutes in five games.
Notes: Fort Wayne's Chris Hunter missed a second straight game with an undisclosed injury. He is averaging 8.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in four games, after missing nearly two years because of injuries to both Achilles tendons. … The Mad Ants also played without Titus Robinson.