Mesa, AZ - In the first round of the Fiesta Bowl Junior College Shootout, the Mesa Thunderbirds defeated the North Idaho College Cardinals, on a go-ahead jump shot from Kyle Fischer with seven seconds remaining on the clock, to win 69-68.
The T-Birds were excited to win but winning in the final moments wasn't in Mesa Head Coach Sam Ballards game plans, especially when Mesa held a 14 point lead with 10 minutes remaining in the game. The T-Birds scored its 60th point at the 10:11 mark of the second half and didn't score again till the 3:09 mark when Nik Nehls made a three-pointer to break a 60-60 tie.
Not only was it a Nehls three pointer that helped Mesa but he then connected on two free-throws to go along with a Rajhan Billingsly layup that put Mesa up 67-60 with 2:32 to play in the game. The Cardinals however went on an 8-0 run, taking the lead for the first time all half, 68-67, with 32 seconds to play.
That is when Kyle Fischer made his way to the left side of the key and connected with a seven foot tear drop to give Mesa its final tally of the night.
Leading all scorers on the night was Rajhan Billingsly, who connected for 23 points, shooting 8-16 on the night. Jeff Perez also scored in the double-figures, pouring in 11. Overall, Mesa shot 41.9 (26-62) percent from the field, hitting nine three-pointers and making eight of nine free-throws (88.9%).
With the win, Mesa moves into the winners bracket and will play the winner of Snow College and Seward County at 6 pm Friday night. Continue to check the mesatbirdsports.com website for the further updates to game times and scores.