By CALEB FOSTER
The Pima Community College men’s basketball team pulled an upset win against No. 1 Phoenix College on Nov. 22 to put them at 1-1 in conference play.
The 89-76 victory brought the team’s overall record to 5-1.
The Aztecs won the first half 43-30 and were able to keep a lead throughout the rest of the game.
The matchup also provided a chance to avenge their overtime playoff semifinals loss to Phoenix College last year. Phoenix went on to win the NJCAA Division II national championship.
Sophomore Murphy Gershman recorded 23 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists. The center/forward, who has signed a national letter of intent to play for the Colorado School of Mines, was named ACCAC Division II player of the week on Nov. 24.
Sophomore Bryan Cervantes also had 23 points and recorded nine rebounds. Sophomore Esteban Lopez grabbed 14 points and eight rebounds.
Freshman DeVaunte Paschal posted 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while sophomore Andres Marquez finished with 10 points and four assists.
The Aztecs lost their conference opener 90-89 on Nov. 19 against Chandler-Gilbert Community College.
Gershman provided a silver lining for the Aztecs, finishing with a 27-point, 17-rebound double-double. Paschal added 15 points and three steals.
Head coach Brian Peabody expects conference competition to be brutal this year.
“It’s probably the best it’s been from top to bottom,” he said. “Every night, it’s going to be a war.”
In their last preconference game on Nov. 15, Pima notched an easy 107-46 win against Phase 1 Academy.
Aggressive and up-tempo play also earned the Aztecs a 108-73 home win on Nov. 12 against Arizona Christian University’s junior varsity team.
Pima held a 56-34 lead at halftime and reached a 42-point lead by the middle of the second half. Gershman reached a double-double in the first half, with 21 points and 11 rebounds. He finished the game with 25 points. Sophomore Matt O’Boyle had 17 points and shot 5-for-8 past the three-point line.
The Aztec bench also stepped up, scoring 47 points. They were led by freshmen Justin Marion, who scored 13 points, and Paschal, who had 10.
“I think our leadership is the best it’s been in a long time,” Peabody said.
The Aztecs were scheduled to play Tohono O’Odham Community College on Nov. 25 in Sells. The game took place after Aztec Press went to the printer.