Jeff Lowery’s potential game-winning shot from the baseline came up short as No. 2 Mesa escaped with a 54-53 overtime win over No. 4 Desert Vista in a 5A-I Fiesta Region game on Friday night at Mesa.
Mesa had the ball with a one-point lead, but Charles Croxen was called for an offensive foul with 28.9 seconds left to give the ball back to the Thunder. Lowery dribbled up top while the clock ran down, and then drove to his right. He pulled up inside the 3-point line, but was well defended by a pair of Mesa players.
“Get in front and contest,” Mesa coach Shane Burcar said of the team's defensive plan. “Then, get the rebound.”
Desmond Medder grabbed the board and was fouled with four-tenths of a second remaining. He missed both free throws, but a desperation heave by Desert Vista at the buzzer wasn’t close.
The Jackrabbits improve to 2-0 in region play, while the Thunder fall to 0-2.
Jahii Carson led the Jackrabbits with 27 points and added seven rebounds, but he fouled out on a reach-in with 48.8 seconds left in overtime. Mesa didn’t score again after he exited, but held on.
Danny Powell had 12 points in his return to the Mesa gym after playing for the team the past two years. He transferred to Desert Vista in the offseason. Powell had a chance to tie the game at 47 with 2:25 left in the fourth quarter, but missed a lay-up. Carson got the rebound and collided with Powell, who was called for his fifth foul.
Carson hit a pair of free throws to push the Mesa lead to 49-45, but Desert Vista battled back to force overtime when Lowery hit a 3-pointer with six seconds remaining in regulation. Carson had a runner from inside the lane that would have won the game at the buzzer, but it bounced off.
“I’m glad my teammates stepped it up at the end,” Powell said. “It was just a few things that didn’t go our way.”
Desert Vista has lost two in a row after starting the year 14-3, but those have been by a combined three points. Mesa trailed by 10 points after the first quarter, but cut the deficit to four at the half and took the lead heading into the final quarter.
Desert Vista played a 2-3 zone for most of the contest, but was forced to switch to man once Mesa took the lead and began stalling. In turn, it opened up more lanes and easier buckets for the jackrabbits.
“We want to play against man-to-man,” Burcar said. “Our strength is our dribble-drive.”