PORTLAND – Kenny Hayes scored 28 of his game-high 32 points in the second half in leading the Maine Red Claws to their first win this season, a 99-91 decision over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants before a crowd of 2,799 Sunday night at the Portland Expo.

Hayes took Coach Dave Leitao’s halftime speech to heart and burst into the second half.

He single-handedly swung the momentum of a game that appeared to be clearly in the Mad Ants’ favor.

The 6-2 guard from Miami (Ohio) rallied his team from an 11-point halftime deficit with 13 straight points in the third quarter, ending up scoring 18 of his team’s 27 points in the period.

“Coach came in at halftime and really got on us,” Hayes said. “He said we looked scared, which we did, and he told us we were better than that and that we could still win this game. That started with me being the leader and the captain. I need to do something to boost my team and bring some energy. I kind of took it personal and I couldn’t let my team down.”

The Red Claws’ surge came after Fort Wayne appeared to have the game under control at the half. The two teams played on relatively even terms through most of the first two quarters, until the Mad Ants outscored Maine 15-0 in the final 2 1/2 minutes for a 59-48 halftime lead.

Hayes was just 2 for 7 from the field in the half.

“I just forgot about the first half,” Hayes said. “I knew it was a new half and I was going to do whatever I could do to help win this game for the team.

“That’s the one thing that I learned over the summer. In the past I carried my emotions on my sleeve and I would let the first half carry over to the second. When you are the captain and the leader on the team you have to realize you have to have a short memory.”

“Because he’s the floor general, whether it’s (Hayes’) fault or not, that goes on his shoulders,” said Leitao, whose team lost its first three games. “Our challenge to him was to be better, to take care of his team and himself. So he took it personal.”

Justin Brownlee had a huge blocked shot and a put-back slam in the final two minutes of regulation to punctuate the comeback effort, and Chris Wright posted double-doubles for the Red Claws. Brownlee finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds off the bench while Wright had 12 points and 13 rebounds.

Corey Allmond paced the Mad Ants with 26 points and Darnell Lazare added 20 points and 11 rebounds.

NOTES: Saturday night’s official final against Springfield was a 112-104 loss, not 112-107 as reported in an early version of the game’s final stats. According to Jana Spaulding, the Red Claws’ director of public and community relations, a power outage in the computerized statistics system caused some late confusion requiring postgame corrections. The point differential came from individual game totals for Wright, who finished with a game-high 26 points instead of 27, and Hayes, who officially had 18 points instead of 20. …

According to Leitao, J.R. Reynolds has left the team. No other information was provided.


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