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Mad Ants hot, but 'not peaking'

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For more on the Mad Ants, follow Reggie Hayes via Twitter at reggiehayes1.

Fort Wayne took care of Texas with defense

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 8:25 am

Fort Wayne Mad Ants coach Duane Ticknor is adamant when asked about if his team has peaked.

“I hope we are not peaking,” Ticknor said. “We sure want to get better than this.”

That could be scary news for potential playoff opponents.

The Mad Ants inched closer to the NBA D-League postseason on Sunday with a 109-85 victory over Texas in the final home regular season game of the year.

The win makes Fort Wayne 10-3 over its last 13 contests, a mark surpassed only by Rio Grande Valley over that span.

“I don't think anybody wants to play us (in the playoffs), none of those better teams want to in the first round at least,” forward Brandon Wallace said. “We just want to keep playing and get better.”

With two games left to play, the Mad Ants (26-22) hold the No. 7 playoff seed by one game over eighth-seeded Maine. Sioux Falls and Erie are currently out of the playoffs, but are just 1.5 games back with one game in hand on both Fort Wayne and Maine.

The scenarios are getting more favorable for the Mad Ants to appear in the franchise's first-ever postseason.

With that comes more confidence, especially considering the way the team is playing on both ends of the floor. For just the second time this season, Fort Wayne has held back-to-back opponents under 90 points, a feat rarely seen in a league full of high-octane offenses.

Texas (19-29) shot just 38 percent (31-of-80) from the field.

“Defensively is where I think we won the ball game,” Ticknor said. “We had 21 deflections, the second-highest total we've had all year. Really the only way they were scoring was off our mistakes or when we fouled them.

“When we played solid defense they really struggled.”

The offense has also been impressive of late. On Sunday, the Mad Ants shot 55.7 percent (43-of-78) from the field, including 41 percent (10-of-24) from three-point range.

For the first time in five games, Tony Mitchell did not lead the team in scoring while finishing with 16 points. But he was one of five players to finish in double figures, none of whom scored more than 17. Anthony Richardson and Chris Porter each had 17 points while Wallace added 15 and Anthony Harris 12.

“That's what you should have at this level,” said Ticknor of the scoring balance. “There are enough good players out there.”

The unselfishness may be the biggest reason for the Mad Ants' recent run.

“Everybody is happy for their teammates when they do something well instead of pouting because they aren't getting their shots,” Ticknor said.

Fort Wayne concludes the regular season with a visit Friday to Sioux Falls followed by a Saturday game with Tulsa.

MAD ANTS 109, LEGENDS 85

Texas - 17 26 23 19 - 85

Fort Wayne - 31 24 30 24 - 109

Texas: Eyenga 9, Ely 14, Jones 2, West 4, Singletary 15, House 16, Bozeman 16, Odufuwa 7, Lewis 2.

Fort Wayne: Richardson 17, Smith 3, Wallace 15, Mitchell 16, Harris 13, Thomas 8, McCamey 9, Rojas 5, Porter 17, Austin 6.