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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Omari Johnson jumps up to shoot the ball as BayHawks' Sanjay Lumpkin tries to block his shot during the first quarter at the Coliseum on Friday.

Friday, January 11, 2019 10:40 pm

Mad Ants relish epic ending

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Make sure you check out the Omari Johnson video highlights above from the Mad Ants’ 120-119 victory tonight over the Erie BayHawks. At the end of it, you can catch Johnson’s winning shot, which came after Alex Poythress of Erie had blocked a Stephan Hicks shot.

“Man, that was a great feeling and I felt like we needed that, especially this being at home. We got the crowd into it and it worked out in the end,” said Tra-Deon Hollins, who had 10 points, a career-best 15 assists and six steals for the Central Division-leading Mad Ants (13-11).

It seemed as if the BayHawks (11-12) were going to put the finishing touches on the victory when John Gillon sent a floating pass with 13 seconds left to Poythress in the paint for what looked like it would be a wide-open basket, but Davon Reed came seemingly out of nowhere to block it.

Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey eschewed taking a timeout and allowed Hollins to sprint down the right side of the court, spin and send a pass to Hicks, whose attempt for a layup was swatted away by Poythress. But Johnson got the leftovers and made a shot from 12 feet away that caromed off the glass and went in, as 2,375 fans celebrated.

“It was a good surge of emotion as we tried to pull that win out,” said Johnson, who had 20 points and a game-best 14 rebounds. “Davon came up with a big block. Then, they came up with an even bigger block. But the ball fell into my hands and it was just the luck of the draw.”

The Mad Ants downplayed the second-half adjustments they made on Poythress, who had 28 points in the first half and only six in the second, but if they don’t buckle down on him then there’s no way they win that game.

This was, in my opinion, undoubtedly the biggest victory of the season so far. It came against a quality team and it came without Edmond Sumner and Alize Johnson.