By CHRISTIAN MORTENSEN
Despite losing the last game of their regular season, the Pima Community College Men’s Basketball team just enjoyed the program’s best regular season in school history.
This year the Aztecs, who finished 26-4 overall and 18-4 in conference play, set school records in both conference and total wins for a single season, all while averaging a NJCAA Division II best 103.7 points per game. Pima finished the season ranked at No. 7 in the final regular season NJCAA Division II poll.
Four different Aztecs were selected for the all conference team, while three of them were also named to the all region team by the NJCAA. Sophomore Keven Biggs was named first team All-ACCAC and first team All-Region I, Division II; averaging 16.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game this season.
Sophomore guard Isaiah Murphy was also selected for both first team All-ACCAC and first team All-Region I, Division II. The sophomore guard played every game this year for Pima, averaging 16.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
Freshman Abram Carrasco was named second team All-ACCAC and second team All-Region I, Division II. The Tucson native had an impressive first year, leading the team in scoring with 18.0 points per game, which was good enough for the fourth highest average in the ACCAC.
Alize Travis was named third team All-ACCAC, averaging 11.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game.
The Aztecs finished with the second best record in the ACCAC, and will host South Mountain Community College in the NJCAA Region I Division II semifinal. Pima is the #2 seed in the tournament and will reach nationals for the second straight year if they are able to win the regional.
Feb. 27: No. 7 Pima CC 88, Arizona Western College 95
In their regular season finale, the Aztecs were defeated in Yuma by a score of 88-95 against Arizona Western College.
After trailing by sixteen points at halftime, Pima staged a furious comeback to take a 80-79 advantage with 4:37 left in the game but ultimately it was not enough as the Matadores ended the game on a 16-8 run to seal the win.
Three different Aztecs posted double doubles in the loss; Justin Bessard finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds, while Alize Travis put up 17 points to go with 10 rebounds and Illunga Moise had 11 points and 11 rebounds as well.
With the loss, Pima finished their regular season at 26-4 overall and 18-4 in conference play, ending up second in the conference standings behind only Phoenix College.
Feb. 24: No. 8 Pima CC 83, Mesa Community College 82
In the last home game of their regular season, and therefore the team’s “sophomore night,” Pima was able to hold on late to defeat Mesa Community College by a score of 83-82 at the West Campus Gym.
Sophomore forward Justin Bessard forced a missed layup at the final buzzer to secure the victory for the Aztecs in an extremely tight game that featured 12 lead changes and 6 ties throughout.
Murphy was the leading scorer for Pima as he scored 19 on the night, and when he hit a corner 3 with 8:35 left in the first half, he surpassed 1,000 total points for his Aztec career. Bessard had an impressive game as well, notching a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Aztecs improved to 26-3 overall and 18-3 in the conference with the win. Their 18th victory in the conference is the highest total in school history, surpassing the previous mark that was set in the 1979-1980 season when the team went 17-4 in conference play.
Before the game, sophomores Biggs, Bessard, Murphy, Moise, Travis, and Keegan Biggers were recognized.
“This is a great group of sophomores,” said assistant coach Dylan Hidalgo after the win, “to have the season they have had this year is very special. They deserve this success.”
Feb. 21: No. 8 Pima CC 84, Central Arizona College 70
Playing on the road in Coolidge, the Aztecs defeated the Central Arizona Vaqueros by a score of 84-70, to improve to 25-3 overall on the season and 17-3 in conference play.
It was a historic victory for the Pima men’s basketball program, as the Aztecs’ 25th win of the year surpassed the school record for most wins in a single season that was previously set in the 1989-1990 campaign when Pima went 24-7.
After having their 10-game winning streak snapped in the previous game against Phoenix College, the Aztecs were able to get back to winning ways as they rode a huge performance by Murphy to come from behind to defeat Central. Murphy finished with a double-double of 31 points and 12 rebounds.
Pima trailed 39-32 at halftime but outscored the Vaqueros 52-31 in the second period to secure the 14-point victory and to sweep the season series between the two schools.