PORTLAND – The Maine Red Claws held off the Fort Wayne Mad Ants down the stretch to pull out a 105-100 victory in the regular-season home finale Thursday night at the Portland Expo.

The Red Claws (18-31), out of playoff contention, will end their season Saturday night at Erie.

Maine, which finished 14-11 at home, played tight defense in the final moments and scored the last seven points, five from the line.

For once it was the Claws making key plays at the end. The team had a penchant for squandering second-half leads.

“We’ve been playing well the last four games,” said Coach Austin Ainge. “It definitely feels good to come through in the last few minutes.”

The Claws led for most of the game but the Mad Ants, in contention with two other teams for the final playoff spot, used an 11-0 run late in the third quarter to tighten matters. There were six lead changes in the last quarter.

With Fort Wayne leading 100-98, Stephane Lasme scored on a baseline drive while being fouled. He missed the free throw but the Claws were fouled while rebounding.

Craig Winder made the first but missed the second. Maine stopped Chris Kramer on a drive, then Kenny Hayes of Maine was fouled and made two with 12.9 seconds. Kramer missed a 3-pointer to tie with 4.9 seconds left and Winder sealed it with two from the line.

“This is kind of payback,” said Magnum Rolle of Maine. “This is the team that kept the Red Claws out of the playoffs last year. (General Manager) Jon Jennings made this personal. He came in and told us ‘Go get some payback.’ “

Rolle, who scored 23 points, said it was great to go out with a bang.

“I came from nothing. I’m truly blessed. I wanted to give the fans something to go home with. To go out with a bang,” he said.

NOTES: The Leavitt High girls’ basketball team was honored at halftime for its Class B state championship. Also honored was Kayla Burchill of Deering, who named the state’s Miss Basketball last month.

Seen in the crowd were two reality television stars, one from Falmouth.

Adam Royer, 22, of Falmouth is on MTV’s “The Real World.” He was sitting with Deena Nicole Cortese from “Jersey Shore.”

The Fort Wayne coach is Joey Meyer, who coached 13 seasons at DePaul University in Chicago. He succeeded his father, the legendary Ray Meyer, with the Blue Demons.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:

[email protected]