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Mad Ants NBADL

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Mad Ants
at Erie
When: 7 p.m. today
vs. Iowa
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Success has Ants thinking big

With 15 games left, team eyeing run for crown

– To illustrate his point, Sadiel Rojas moved his hand from his waist to a couple of inches above his 6-foot-4 frame.

“This is where the expectations were last year and, now, they’re all the way up here,” said Rojas, a forward with the Mad Ants.

For the first time in their seven-year history, the Mad Ants aren’t just trying to stay in the discussion of relevant D-League teams.

They want to lead the discussion.

Heading into today’s game at Erie, the Mad Ants are 21-14. For a team that came into this season never having been more than six games above .500, and which got its first playoff berth last year, they believe a championship is possible.

“We know we’re doing fresh things for this franchise,” Rojas said.

In a run that began Jan. 3, the Mad Ants have won 15 of 22 games.

The atmosphere at home games is noticeably different, as the Mad Ants have gone 12-6 at Memorial Coliseum this season. The Mad Ants rank sixth among the D-League’s 17 teams with an average attendance of 2,503 fans.

“I’m happy for our fans. We had some lean years and it’s nice to have some success,” Mad Ants President Jeff Potter said.

The Mad Ants have been led by Ron Howard’s 21 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game, while Tony Mitchell has averaged 19.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

“I really like this team, and I think we have a chance to play for something, not just make the playoffs,” said Potter, whose Mad Ants lost seven of their first 10 games last season before finishing 27-23 and heading to the postseason.

“Last year, we wanted to break through and have a winning record and make the playoffs. This year, I think we can play for a title, and I hope everyone has that mindset,” Potter said.

Eight teams will make the playoffs, including the three division winners. Fort Wayne is one game back of Canton for first place in the East Division and has the fifth-best winning percentage in the league.

The Mad Ants have 15 games remaining in the regular season.

“Last year, we started it off and this year we came back feeling we were going to build on it. The mood is different,” Rojas said.

Notes: On Saturday, kids with an “A” or equivalent grade will get a free ticket if they show their report card at the box office. … It is also “Star Wars” night, and fans are encouraged to dress accordingly.

jcohn@jg.net

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