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News » T- Birds Fall Just Short In '08 Debut

T- Birds Fall Just Short In '08 Debut

T- Birds Fall Just Short In '08 Debut
It was anything but a Black Friday at Tingley Coliseum for the Albuquerque Thunderbirds' season opener.

But the T-Birds did lose, as the Colorado 14ers held on for 119-118 win after fighting off a comeback by Albuquerque in front of an announced crowd of 4,561.

James Mays, who played collegiately at Clemson, put back his miss with 8.9 seconds remaining to provide the winning points for Colorado and cap a wild fourth quarter that saw 10 lead changes.

Mays, who finished with a team-high 27 points, was instrumental in building a big second-half lead for the 14ers.

But Albuquerque, sparked by David Noel, Mike Conroy and Cheyne Gadson, fought all the way back from a 17-point third-quarter deficit.

Noel was whistled for a technical foul with the T-Birds trailing 84-67 but he seemed to light a spark under his team. Noel, who played in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks, finished with 18 points and nine rebounds in his Thunderbirds debut.

Also making his Thunder birds' debut was Fred Gibson - a former wide receiver at Georgia and fourth-round selection of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2005 NFL Draft. Gibson scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

Albuquerque battled back and cut its deficit to 106-105 with 4:22 left in the fourth after Noel stole the ball on the defensive end and hurled a pass full-court to a waiting Conroy, who hit the layup.

"I think everybody played very, very well," said Gadson, who scored a game-high 28 points. "We just need to come out better from the jump and we'll be all right."

Conroy finished with 25 points, including two clutch free throws that gave Albuquerque a 118-117 lead with 17.3 seconds left to play.

But he was stripped of the ball on the T-Birds' final possession and the 14ers ran out the clock.

The T-Birds didn't get the win but offered evidence they'll battle and be exciting in the 2008-09 season.

"We started off slow but once we got our confidence going, we played real good," Gadson said. "We just went there and played Basketball, and you know when you play like that, anything can happen."

Former Lobos Mark Walters and Marlon Parmer made their returns to Albuquerque. The T-Birds' Walters was a fan favorite and All-MWC performer who played four years. Parmer, with the 14ers, had a bit off a falling out and finished his collegiate career at Kentucky Wesleyan.

Walters played sparingly but did provide plenty of energy off the bench.

"It feels good (to be back here)," Walters said. "It's great to play in front of my home fans in my hometown. It doesn't matter how much I played, it was a good game, the guys played tough. Whether I play one or 10 (minutes), it doesn't matter as long as the team wins."

Parmer had 17 points and six assists. He received a nice ovation when he was introduced before tipoff but also heard some boos as he made some crucial plays down the stretch. Parmer scored six points and had an assist in the final two minutes.

"It feels good to be back, man," Parmer said. "You know, that's when big-time players make big plays, at the end."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 1, 2008


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