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Fill-in guard keys win for Ants

– There was a new episode Saturday night in the ongoing soap opera of Name That Mad Ants Point Guard.

This time it was Kim English, the shooting guard assigned to the Ants from the Detroit Pistons.

With an injury to Walker Russell Jr. and a flu bug that bit leading scorer and backup point Ron Howard, which forced Russell to play and get reinjured, English stepped into a harried situation and led the Ants to a 95-85 victory over Springfield at Memorial Coliseum.

It gave the Ants (3-7) their first win since the end of November and put a ceremonial end to a losing streak that had reached five.

“I’ll take every one I can get right now,” Ants coach Duane Ticknor said of the win. “It was for our psyche. We needed this. I think we’ll feel pretty good coming into Tuesday night.”

Tuesday night is another home date, this time against Canton. As to who will play point guard that night, no one is quite sure yet.

Russell hobbled off the floor with 3:11 remaining. Howard’s status is uncertain. English, along with fellow Piston Khris Middleton and Indiana Pacers center Miles Plumlee, will return to the Mad Ants for Tuesday’s game.

Springfield (3-4) got within 85-82 when the Ants called a timeout. Meanwhile, Russell was visibly hurting and helped from the floor.

“I told them I would do it,” English said of playing point guard. “I told them I would run the point.

“It’s something I think I can do as a backup. It’s a tough position when you’re trying to score as well as distribute. I’m learning.”

But the Ants gave themselves some late breathing room when Mike Anderson dunked home a shot from Sadiel Rojas, even though it appeared Rojas’ driving layup was going in. And then Plumlee slammed a dunk off a jump-ball situation with 2 seconds remaining on the shot clock.

Plumlee, the Warsaw native, finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds.

English had 15 points and 8 assists, while Russell had 11 points, 9 assists and no turnovers.

Plumlee eyed the stat sheet and saw that he played one second short of 42 minutes, and said he’s never seen that kind of playing time.

“That’s what comes with getting a lot of minutes and being more comfortable,” Plumlee said. “I worked really hard this season, and I know I’ve improved. I just feel really comfortable out here with this team.”

The Ants, who committed 27 turnovers in Friday’s loss to Maine, had just seven Saturday against 25 assists.

stwarden@jg.net

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