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Mad Ants NBADL

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    It has been a season of firsts for the Mad Ants.They got a franchise-record 34 victories and earned their first regular-season championship. And now they’ve got their first playoff series victory.
Mad Ants
Vs. Reno
When: 7 p.m. today

Sharing the load has led to wins for Mad Ants

– The dilemma was not unlike what the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks have dealt with in figuring out a game plan with Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony.

Is it good to get the star player as many shots as possible? Or would it be better to get everyone more involved, even if they aren’t quite as talented?

The Mad Ants tried the former and moved to the latter, and the result has been a four-game winning streak.

“We had to get the ball moving and get everybody touches, get everybody involved, and that’s what helped us the most,” said Trey McKinney-Jones, the only player other than star Ron Howard to lead Fort Wayne in scoring this season.

The Mad Ants (5-5), who play Reno (5-6) tonight at Memorial Coliseum, are led in scoring by Howard, who averages 22.5 points and 4 assists.

McKinney-Jones averages 17 points, and Sadiel Rojas averages 11.9 points and 9.2 rebounds. Olek Czyz averages 10.9 points and 5.0 assists.

In Fort Wayne’s last game, an 88-85 victory over Canton on Sunday at the Coliseum, the Mad Ants’ diversified offense was on display. Howard had a team-high 20 points, but four other players had nine or more points, and 10 players were involved in the Fort Wayne offense.

Not only does it make Fort Wayne tougher to defend, but it also keeps the team fresh and helps expose opponents’ weaknesses.

“We’re making an emphasis to make the ball touch different hands, change sides of the ball, get a ball screen, and it makes it harder to defend us,” McKinney-Jones said. “Definitely, getting it through different hands and sharing the ball has been an emphasis for us.”

The change in offensive philosophy came after a 104-101 loss to Iowa on Dec. 12, during which Howard made 10 of 30 shots. The Mad Ants have lost only once since then.

“We want to play faster and turn the ball from side to side, and then get it off the bounce, and make teams guard us that way,” Fort Wayne coach Conner Henry said. “And find the open man; then it becomes infectious and results in better shots. It’s a simple formula. They’re starting to buy into it.”

The Mad Ants parted ways this week with forward Chris Hunter, who averaged 8.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 17.3 minutes in four games since returning from nearly two years of absence with two Achilles injuries.

Hunter had missed the last two games with continued pain, and president Jeff Potter said the team decided it was time to move on.