Last season Pima lost by a basket in the Region I, Division I finals. After a Historic season for the players and Head coach Todd Holthaus, the Aztecs failed to avenge last years lost against their rivals from Mesa Community College. This game was important for the team but more important to the returning players.
March 10: PCC 61, Mesa Community College 76
The Aztecs of Pima Community College women’s basketball team’s season sadly came to an end at the NJCAA Region I, Division II Finals.
The No.2 seeded Aztecs fell at No.1 Mesa Community College 76-61. This was the second straight year the Aztecs lost at Mesa and the ninth time in 10 years the Aztecs and Thunderbirds have met in the finals.
The Aztecs took a 5-4 lead nearly four minutes into the game but they were held scoreless for the next five minutes as Mesa went on a 10-0 run. The Aztecs trailed 18-10 after the quarter.
Freshmen Jacqulynn Nakai had a slow start into this match, she scored her first points with 29 seconds left in the second quarter. At the half the Aztecs trailed 36-26. Nakai had three points on 1 for 6 shooting and sophomore Izzy Spruit was scoreless after going for 0 for 5 from the field.
Nakai cut Pima’s deficit to single digits to 41-32 nearly three minutes into the third quarter but the Thunderbirds went on a 13-0 run in the next two minutes to make it 54-32.
In the final quarter of the game, the Aztecs made one last effort to comeback as they got close as 15 points at 68-53 with 3:55 left but Mesa scored the next five points to take a 20 point lead at 73-35.
Nakai scored a team-high 14 points to go along with three rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Aubre Fortner had a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds as she went for 4 for 7 from the field. Freshmen Shauna Bribiescas was the other Aztecs in double figures as she scored 11 points. Sophomore Christine Ortega had six points and 10 rebounds. Spruit finished with 4 points and went 0 for 9 from the three point line.
This is the second year in a row the Aztecs finished with 23 wins overall (23-9) and a 16-6 record in ACCAC conference play. They’ve won 20 games or more seven of the last 10 years..
The Aztecs had a young team as they had eight freshmen, including Nakai the ACCAC Division II Player of the Year.
“I’ve never had a bond so close with a team before that’s why it was so hard when we lost,” Said Christine Ortega. “We worked so hard throughout the season and truly wanted it but unfortunately we fell short.”
Nakai became the first the Pima women’s basketball player to be named Women’s Basketball College Associations.