Fans of the Mad Ants – and the Indiana Pacers – found out just how good Alize Johnson could be tonight when he had 27 points and 20 rebounds in a 133-105 Fort Wayne victory over the Maine Red Claws before 4,221 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
“He’s got a knack for the ball,” Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey said. “You can’t teach that. He knows where to be, where that ball is. It’s his motor. That’s what makes him get to those balls. Guys are boxing him out and his swimming guys, he’s jabbing and going the other way, and that takes a lot of energy.”
Late in the first half, Gansey looked at the crowd and said he thought Johnson would have 20. Nice call!
(Video of Johnson’s game is above.)
Gansey was an assistant coach to Joey Meyer back in 2010 when Rob Kurz had 24 rebounds, which remains the Mad Ants’ franchise record. Something else noteworthy about that game: It was the first nationally televised Mad Ants game – on Versus, at Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Johnson is slated to remain with the Mad Ants at least through this week. Of course, these things change all the time.
“It felt great,” said Johnson, a rookie second-round draft pick of the Pacers, said of the game. “That’s one of the things I try to do every night is go out there and try to rebound the basketball. That’s something that I love to do. It just happened that tonight I got lucky enough to get 20 of them.”
Johnson made 11 of 20 shots and had 12 offensive rebound, as Fort Wayne had a 48-34 rebounding edge.
Ben Moore, released by the Pacers earlier this month, had 19 points for the Mad Ants (2-1), who got 17 points from Stephan Hicks. Omari Johnson, the all-time leader in games played for the Red Claws, added 15 points for Fort Wayne.
“My teammates were great,” said Alize Johnson, who played last season at Missouri State. “The coaching staff set us up with the right plays to put us all in great positions. It was a huge win today for coach Gansey and for all of us. We’re just excited to keep working like this.”
Maine (1-3) was paced by the 23 points of Walt Lemon Jr., who starred for the Mad Ants in 2015-16 and 2017-18.