In sports, milestones and records are looked upon to determine greatness. For the Mesa Thunderbirds men's basketball program, they have reached an incredible milestone by winning their 1000th game with a win over the Tohono O'Oodham Jegos in Tuesday nights season finale, 82-72.
In its rich 51 year history, Mesa has been lead by great coaches, like Ed Van Winkle, who took over the program from 1968-1976. Van Winkle coached the T-Birds to an ACCAC Championship and Division Championship and earned Coach of the Year twice.
Then in 1977, Tom Bennett took over as coach. In his nearly 20 year stint at Mesa, Coach Bennett, along with the help of Royce Youree in a few of those years, compiled a 442-164(.729) record, winning nine ACCAC Championships and six Region 1 Championships while finishing the regular season in first place in the ACCAC 10 times.
Joedy Gardner took over the program in the late 90's for three seasons, compiling a 65-35 record and winning two Region 1 Championships and an ACCAC Championship.
Since 2008, Sam Ballard has captained the program to two Region 1 Championships and a runner-up finish. He has over 160 wins and will keep climbing as seasons go on.
Some notable players that have donned the T-Bird red and white are Khari Holloway, who earned 2nd Team All-American in 2015. Holloway is playing now at Portland State.
Also from 2010, Stephen Rogers, who was Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and was a 2nd Team All-American. Ernest Brown also earned Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and was 1st Team All-American in 1998-99. In 1996, Jason Richey earned Player of the Year and 1st Team All-American honors.