Mesa, AZ - The Mesa Thunderbirds improve their record to 2-0 on the season with a 101-87 victory over News Release Basketball Friday night at Theo Heap Gym.
The win is also Mesa's Head Coach Sam Ballard's 159 victory at the helm at Mesa, moving him into 2nd all-time behind Tom Bennett.
"It's an honor and a privilege to have my name amongst the best coaches at Mesa," said Coach Ballard after the game, "I truly honored."
With the victory, Ballard moves past Ed Van Winkle (1967-1976), who had a record of 158-97 in his nine season's as Mesa's head coach. Tom Bennett then took over for Van Winkle from 1976-1994, 1995-96, where Bennett amassed 442 wins just 164 losses (.729). Bennett is the all-time winningest coach at Mesa.
In Ballard's time at Mesa, the T-Birds have finished the regular season in first place twice, with two ACCAC DI championships and two runner-up finishes.
Six Thunderbirds scoring in double-figures helped Coach Ballard reach victory 159, with Austin Denham leading the way with 16 points. Denham also had five boards on the night with two steals.
Mesa went into halftime tied at 40 with News Release but the T-Birds used the long range three's to pull away in the second half, shooting 6-8 from the outside, compared to just 3-13 in the first half.
The T-Birds shot 51.5 percent from the field (34-66) and went 24-33 at the free throw line.
Mesa will be at home again tomorrow night when they play Utah State University - Eastern at 7:30 p.m. at Theo Heap Gym.