LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Feb. 13, 2021 – The game saw 15 lead changes and 16 ties, but in the end, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants picked up their first win of the 2021 single site season Saturday afternoon. The 119-115 win over Rio Grande Valley (1-2) was propelled by Jalen Lecque (24 points) and Josh Gray (23 points) each posting season highs in scoring.
Kenyon Martin Jr’s game high 30 points led the Vipers; he added 11 rebounds.
Fort Wayne (1-2) shot a season best 46.5 percent from the field and 36 percent from three point range while also notching season highs in points in the paint (74) and transition points (21). The Mad Ants out rebounded Rio Grande Valley 55-41 while the Vipers assisted on a game high 28 baskets.
Lecque scored 12 of Fort Wayne’s first 14 points, going 4 of 4 from the field to start the game but Rio Grande Valley countered in hitting four of their first six three pointers in the opening quarter. Fort Wayne pushed their lead to six with two minutes remaining on Josh Gray’s second basket of the game. Fort Wayne led 30-26 after one.
Rio Grande Valley scored the first four points of the second quarter to draw even. Fort Wayne expanded their lead again back to seven points but a 9-0 run for Rio Grande Valley culminating with a Martin Jr. dunk let the Vipers complete the comeback and pull ahead 43-41 at the 6:11 mark of the second quarter. Rio Grande Valley pushed their lead to eight with 47.9 seconds left in the half on a Trevelin Queen and-one basket, their largest lead of the game to that point. Rio Grande Valley extended their lead to 10 and led again by eight, 63-55, at the half.The Vipers’ first half was pushed by their defense (five blocks, four steals), while the Mad Ants were paced by Lecque’s quick start and a second quarter boost from Gray, who had 12 points off the bench at halftime.
The second half started with a duel of Viper dunks and Naz Mitrou-Long shots for Fort Wayne. Martin Jr. and Kevin Porter Jr. both threw one down for Rio Grande Valley in the opening 90 seconds, but Mitrou-Long scored five points of his own in that time with a floater and three pointer to keep Fort Wayne within five. Fort Wayne pulled ahead at the 8:15 mark of the quarter on a Rayshaun Hammonds basket at the rim and the Mad Ants would extend the lead to 79-70 in transition and with second chance baskets by the six minute mark.
Rio Grande Valley pushed back again, scoring six straight before a Gray layup ended the Fort Wayne scoring drought. With 2:39 to play in the third, a Martin Jr. triple tied the game at 81 before Daxter Miles Jr. hit back with a three of his own for Fort Wayne and Queen continued the triple rally to knot the game up at 84. The Vipers finished the quarter on a 5-0 run to lead 89-84, the culmination of a 19-5 run in the second half of the third.
The start of the second portion of the fourth was all about the Mad Ants as they went on a 9-0 run before a Porter Jr. three pointer cut the Mad Ant lead to 109-104. An Oshae Brissett put back with 3:54 to play put Fort Wayne up by nine, matching their biggest lead of the game and the Ants would hold on the rest of the way, never trailing after the 6:52 mark of the fourth.
Mitrou-Long added 19 points for Fort Wayne while Brissett set a career high with 14 rebounds and Hammonds scored a career high 13 points.
Porter Jr. added 27 points for Rio Grande Valley.