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The Journal Gazette

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants forward Omari Johnson shoots over Canton's Sir'Dominic Pointer in the first quarter at Memorial Coliseum on Monday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants guard Je'Lon Hornbeak drives under the basket in the second quarter against Canton at Memorial Coliseum on Monday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants head coach Steve Gansey on the sideline in the second quarter against Canton at Memorial Coliseum on Monday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants guard Je'Lon Hornbeak drives to the basket in the first quarter against Canton at Memorial Coliseum on Monday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants forward Alize Johnson drives down the court in the second quarter against Canton at Memorial Coliseum on Monday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants forward Alize Johnson looks to pass the ball in the first quarter against Canton at Memorial Coliseum on Monday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants forward Demetrius Denzel-Dyson drives down the court in the second quarter against Canton at Memorial Coliseum on Monday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants Ike Anigbogu forces is way under the basket in the second quarter against Canton at Memorial Coliseum on Monday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants forward Demetrius Denzel-Dyson gets tied up under the basket by Canton guard Kobi Simmons in the second quarter at Memorial Coliseum on Monday.  

Monday, December 03, 2018 9:50 pm

Mad Ants 'waste opportunity' in loss

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The Mad Ants just keep on alternating between victories and defeats. And now they’re about to lose perhaps their best player, rookie Alize Johnson.

Johnson had 16 points and 13 rebounds, giving him seven double-doubles in nine games with the Mad Ants, not including his 20-point, nine-rebound G League debut.

But the Mad Ants lost 96-81 to the Canton Charge tonight at Memorial Coliseum, where an announced crowd of 1,327 was on hand.

“Division opponents, these are huge games for us,” Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey said. “The fact that we are home (so much) this December, we need to take advantage of that full force and we did not do that tonight.

“We’re going to be showing them film and tomorrow we’re going down to Indy and practicing in front of the (Indiana Pacers’) coaches and front office and it’s a great opportunity for us and we need to do a lot of different things, both offensively and defensively. … Our general manager from the Pacers, Chad Buchanan, was here tonight and that was a lost opportunity. You never know who’s watching in this league. It’s on TV, it’s online, it’s everywhere. You can’t waste an opportunity like that.”

Johnson, a second-round draft pick of the Pacers, will rejoin their roster Tuesday.

The Mad Ants’ previous game was a 98-77 victory Saturday at the Coliseum over the Windy City Bulls in which they allowed a season low for points.

The Mad Ants (5-5), who have three games remaining in their six-game home stand, play host to the Long Island Nets 7 p.m. Friday.

Canton (5-6) was paced by Kobi Simmons’ 18 points.

Earlier in the day, the Pacers sent Ike Anigbogu back to the Mad Ants. He’s played in three NBA games, playing just over 6 minutes, this season, after he was in 11 games as a rookie last season with the Pacers.

Anigbogu had 14 points and 13 rebounds. Stephan Hicks had 15 points for Fort Wayne, which is trying to become more consistent after not winning back-to-back games since it was 3-1.

“It starts with the older guys, the guys who have been playing around the longest.” Hicks said. “We’ve got to show everyone that we have to bring it every game if we want to be a good team. We’ve got to show it. We can’t play a good game here and then play a terrible game the next one. We’ve got to string it together, if we want to be great.”

Edmond Sumner remains with the Pacers – he has appeared in six games and made 2 of 5 shots for five points with one assist and one steal in just over 24 minutes – but he’s expected to rejoin Fort Wayne this week.

Canton’s roster underwent some roster upheaval leading up to the game: Andrew Harrison and Billy Preston, who had been under two-way contracts with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, were waived and Jalen Jones and Jaron Blossomgame were signed to two-ways. Blossomgame had already been with the Charge. Jones had been with the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans last season and was with the Cavaliers tonight.

After a first quarter in which Canton outscored Fort Wayne 19-16, thanks to superior shooting 38.9 percent to 25 percent, the Charge kept holding the Mad Ants in check. Canton’s JaCorey Williams stripped Anigbogu of the ball in the lane, went the length of the court and fed Blossomgame for an easy layup and a 39-32 lead with 5:10 remaining in the second quarter.

Canton went up 47-38 on Bonzie Colson’s 3-pointer from the corner with 11:34 remaining in the third quarter, and teammate Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman polished off a 4-on-2 fastbreak for a 70-58 lead with 1:30 left in the third quarter.

Notes: Fort Wayne’s Tra-Deon Hollins missed a second straight game with a knee injury, meaning Je’Lon Hornbeak got the second start of his pro career. … This was the first meeting of the season between Fort Wayne and Canton.

jcohn@jg.net