Ed Petruska- Pinal Central
SIGNAL PEAK — The Central Arizona College men's basketball team was determined to not let Mesa spoil a wonderful week.
The Vaqueros toppled the Thunderbirds 91-83 in overtime on Saturday at the George Young Activity Center. Coming off Wednesday's 86-78 win at Glendale, it marked the first time this season Central has gone 2-0 for the week in Arizona Community College Athletic Conference play.
"It was huge to see the kids grow up and close out these games," CAC coach Tramaine Aaron said.
The Vaqueros (10-14, 6-11 ACCAC) overcame an 11-point deficit to knock off Mesa (12-12, 10-7). Central outscored the Thunderbirds 15-7 in overtime after regulation ended with the teams deadlocked at 76-76.
"Our guys showed some resilience," Aaron said. "The guys didn't quit. They kept battling. We made some adjustments, and the guys made some great plays to push us into overtime and to the win. It was great to see."
Danny Garrick had another ultra-productive outing for the Vaqueros, scoring a game-high 29 points. Garrick, who entered with a team-best 15.5 scoring average, made seven 3-pointers. His last trey came with 42 seconds left in overtime and extended CAC's lead to 86-81.
Quincy Smith had 26 points, a personal season high. He went 11 for 14 on free throws.
Cory Deveaux provided 12 points. His two free throws with 1:00 left in overtime put the Vaqueros ahead to stay at 83-81.
Central trailed 79-76 and 81-79 in overtime before finishing with a 12-2 surge. Two of those points came on free throws by Deveaux with 42 seconds remaining after Mesa was called for a dead-ball contact technical. Deveaux then went coast to coast for a layup following a missed 3-pointer by the Thunderbirds. That basket with 25.9 seconds to play put the Vaqueros up 90-81.
Central led by as many as five points in the first half, which ended in a 35-35 tie. Mesa began the second half with a 15-6 run, then went up 58-47 on Ramon Franklin's basket with 11:30 remaining.
The Vaqueros responded with a 14-3 run to forge a 61-61 tie with 6:06 left in regulation. There were four more ties and six lead changes prior to the start of overtime.
Garrick's 3-pointer put Central ahead 72-71 with 2:48 remaining. Elijah Moore's second-chance basket gave the Thunderbirds — who defeated CAC 85-79 on Jan. 3 — a 76-74 lead with 45.4 seconds to play. Garrick hit two free throws with 25.7 seconds left, and neither team scored on its final possession of regulation.
In overtime, Mesa took leads of 79-76 on a 3-pointer by Antwan Ross-Jones and 81-79 on Franklin's basket off a CAC turnover.
Ross-Jones led the Thunderbirds with 16 points, followed by Adonis Arms with 15, Franklin with 14, Moore with 12 and Errol Newman with 11.
CAC entered the game tied with Eastern Arizona in the battle for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Division I Region 1 tournament. The Vaqueros have five games left, including their Feb. 24 home finale matchup against the Gila Monsters.