By BETO HOYOS
The season came to a close for the Pima Community College women’s basketball team on March 6 after the Aztecs fell to Mesa Community College for the third straight year. Pima lost 65-64.
Both teams got after it from the opening tip and both teams exchanged leads. The Aztecs led by 10 late in the first half but Mesa ended the half on a 7-0 run. Pima took a two-point lead into the half.
For much of the second half, the Aztecs held a single-digit lead. Mesa’s first lead of the half came with a little over five minutes left in the game.
With 1:22 left, sophomore Holly Bolen drained a three-pointer to give the Aztecs a one-point lead. Mesa tied it up with a free throw before sophomore Felicia Foster drained a three-pointer of her own to put Pima up 62-59 with less than a minute to go.
After hitting a pair of free throws and scoring on an inbounds play to the post, Mesa took the lead for good.
Sophomore Alicia Jones led the team in scoring with 17 points while also grabbing 11 rebounds
Sophomore Raja Moreno-Ross finished her final game as an Aztec with 12 points and nine rebounds. Foster finished the game with 12 points.
On March 4, the Aztecs advanced to the championship game after defeating No. 3 Chandler-Gilbert Community College 79-65.
“This time of year you survive and advance,” head coach Todd Holthaus said.
Both teams came out focused and exchanged leads in the first half. The game was tied 34-34 going into halftime.
“Coach said at halftime that we can’t take anything for granted and to do everything we have to for the win,” sophomore Rachel Williams said.
Williams finished with 12 points off the bench.
“It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t the way we wanted to play but we came out in the second half and got it done,” Holthaus said.
The Aztecs started the second half with an 11-4 run. Freshman Melody McLaughlin scored seven straight points and helped put the Aztecs up 50-41 midway through the half.
Freshman Jayla Brown drained a three-pointer to give Pima its first double-digit lead at 53-43. The biggest lead of the game came off a McLaughlin bucket that put the Aztecs up 76-58.
McLaughlin scored 16 of her 18 points in the second half and also grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists.
Moreno-Ross had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Jones finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.