Mesa Junior College (11-2) has been rolling this season, and looks to be playing their best basketball of the season. Currently ranked as the top team in Arizona's ACCAC conference, Mesa had won their last 9 games in a row on the season coming into Sunday evening's championship game in the Fiesta Bowl Junior College Shootout. After two early season narrow losses to top-rated out-of-state junior college opponents - Indian Hills JC (IA) and Snow Junior College (UT), Mesa has been rolling.
Mesa has been led this season by the terrific point guard play of 6-foot, 180-pound sophomore guard Shy McClelland - currently rated as my top overall juco prospect in the ACCAC. 6-foot-6, 235-pound sophomore forward Camyn Boone has been terrific this season as well, after transferring from Grand Canyon University last spring.
The annual Fiesta Bowl Junior College Shootout is always loaded with top-rated national junior college opponents - filled with talented teams, players, and, of course, college coaches. This year's field of teams included such top-rated junior college programs as Central Arizona JC, Laramie County JC (WY), #12 nationally ranked Monroe JC (NY), Sal Lake City JC (UT), San Bernardino Valley JC (CA), #2 nationally ranked South Plains JC (TX) and Williston State JC (ND).
Mesa Junior College has received strong play all season from 6-foot-2, 165-pound sophomore guard Tre Ogles. Ogles would connect on 4 out of 5 three-pointers early in the game to help Mesa jump out to a big and early lead. After Ogles' 4th three-pointer of the first half, Mesa would take a 21-11 lead with 11:40 left to play in the first half.
Shy McClelland would also connect on back-to-back three-pointers of his own to give Mesa their biggest lead of the game - a 15-point advantage in the first half, 36-21, with 4:54 left to play in the first half.
Monroe Junior College has a team of very tough prospects, primarily from the New York area, so they would not lay down easy. Monroe would go on a 14 to 3 run to end the first half. Mesa would take a narrow, 39-35 lead into the half.
In the second half, with Monroe possessing the momentum from the first half, Mesa would play tough and continue their strong and well-coached team effort. A strong drive and finish by Shy McClelland would keep Mesa ahead with 14:25 left to play, 46-40. With 10 minutes left to play, Ogles would connect again from the wing on another three-pointer to put Mesa ahead 53-40.
After some fireworks late in the game, Mesa would cruise to a 73-59 championship victory, led by a game-high 24 points from Tre Ogles. Shy McClelland would earn the Tournament Most Valuable Player award - finishing with 12 points and 6 assists, while 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Sami Bzai would finish with 15 points. Camyn Boone would contribute 14 points in the victory.
Monroe JC 6-foot-6 sophomore forward Jaelyn Johnson-Costo would finish with a team-high 19 points and 9 rebounds in the loss.