By CHRISTIAN MORTENSEN
Coming into 2017-2018 after their best season in years, the Pima Community College men’s basketball team is looking to a solid group of returning players and a couple of key additions to build on the program’s success last season.
In 2016-2017, the Aztecs went 22-13 and were good enough to reach the NJCAA Division II Tournament, all while featuring the National Player of the Year in Deion James.
With James gone, this year will be different, but Pima still has a good chance to have another successful season.
Head coach Brian Peabody is back at the helm, as are five sophomores from last year’s squad. Among the returners, guard Isaiah Murphy is certainly a player to watch after he spent part of the offseason with Team Japan at the FIBA Under 19 World Championships. As a freshman, Murphy averaged 15.3 points per game for Pima in 16-17.
To complement his core of returning players, Peabody also brought in sophomore point guard Alize Travis out of Victorville, California who is looking to be an impact player and has started both games so far this season.
Nov. 11: Pima CC 124, CMG Prep 89
In the second game of its regular season, Pima defeated CMG Prep (Phoenix) in dominant fashion, 124-89 at the Pima West Campus Gym.
With the win at home, the Aztecs improved to 2-0 on the young season and continued its explosive offensive start. Pima has averaged a little more than 119 points per game, while shooting a combined 53 percent in the first two games.
Against CMG, Pima controlled the game from the beginning and was paced by big men Justin Bessard and Robert Wilson. Bessard, a sophomore forward, led the team with 16 rebounds and added 12 points to pick up a double-double.
Wilson, a freshman forward, worked ferociously the whole game and was also able to notch a double-double of his own with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Murphy led Pima in scoring again with 22 points, and guard Abram Carrasco impressed off the bench for the second straight game, scoring 20 points.
Nov. 4: Pima CC 115, Arizona Christian University Prospect Development 90
Pima basketball team won the opening game of its regular season when they defeated the Arizona Christian University Prospect Development team 115-90.
The Aztecs were led by sophomores Murphy and Daren Biggs, who tallied 26 and 21 points, respectively. Murphy shot an impressive 83 percent from the field, converting 10 of 12 shots.
Biggs, a 6-foot, 4-inch guard, scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half while also grabbing six rebounds.
Pima’s bench played a big part in the 25 point victory, scoring a combined 54 points to help the Aztecs blow past the team from ACU.
Three freshman came off the bench to score in double figures for the Aztecs, as Carrasco finished with 18 points, Nik Nells scored 12 and Elloheim Clark added 10.