The Fort Report: Mad Ants Nearing End of Regular Season

by Wheat Hotchkiss Writer/Editor

The Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the Pacers' G League affiliate, dropped three of four games last week, but remain in good position to secure a playoff berth.

With five games remaining in the regular season, Fort Wayne is 26-19 on the year and two games ahead of the Grand Rapids Drive (Detroit's affiliate) for first place in the Central Division.

In this year's playoff format, the three division winners and three wild-card teams (the non-division winners with the the best records) from each conference reach the postseason. The top two division winners in each conference will earn first-round byes. If the season ended today, Fort Wayne would have a bye, as they are a half-game ahead of the Southeast Division leaders, the Erie BayHawks (Atlanta's affiliate).

On March 6, the Mad Ants suffered a narrow road loss to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston's affiliate). Reigning G League Player of the Month DeQuan Jones was brilliant for Fort Wayne, scoring 37 points on 12-of-21 shooting (5-of-9 from 3-point range) and pulling down 11 rebounds, but the Mad Ants fell, 119-116.

Stephan Hicks and Jamil Wilson each added 18 points in the loss. Pacers rookie center Ike Anigbogu finished with 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting, seven rebounds, three assists, and five blocks. Two-way forward Ben Moore chipped in seven points, two rebounds, and two steals.

The Mad Ants dropped another game the next night, a 117-105 loss at the Texas Legends (Dallas' affiliate). Once again, the end result spoiled a tremendous performance by Jones, who scored 37 points for the second straight night, this time going 13-for-19 from the field and 3-for-6 from beyond the arc.

Trey McKinney Jones, who recently spent time with the Pacers on a two-way contract, added 18 points, five boards, and four assists off the bench. Anigbogu tallied a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Moore added seven points and five boards.

The Mad Ants returned home on Friday and picked up their only win of the week, a 113-110 victory over the Delaware 87ers (Philadelphia's affiliate). McKinney Jones led the team with 23 points, nine rebounds, and four assists.

Anigbogu, meanwhile, had arguably the best game of his professional career, scoring 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Hicks added 19 points, while two-way guard Edmond Sumner chipped in 17 points and six rebounds.

The Mad Ants visited the Drive on Tuesday, falling in overtime, 116-112. Jones finished with a team-high 21 points in the loss, while Pacers forward Alex Poythress (assigned to the G League over the weekend) added 20 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks.

Sumner added 17 points and six assists and Moore contributed 14 points and eight boards in the loss.

The Mad Ants have a favorable schedule to close out the regular season, beginning a four-game homestand by hosting the Canton Charge (Cleveland's affiliate) on Friday night at 7:00 PM ET. They visit Erie for their final regular season contest on Saturday, March 24.

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