RSSAuthor Archive for Casey Muse

Thank you Aztec Press, Pima Athletics

Thank you Aztec Press, Pima Athletics

By CASEY MUSE JR.

I am always talking about how lucky I have been to have had an opportunity to be a part of the Aztec Press.

I was one of those people who had no idea what they wanted to do with their life after graduating from high school. After working full time for a couple of years, I decided that I needed to ease my way back into school but I still had no idea what I wanted to study.

One of my biggest hobbies outside of work and school has always been sports. I am always trying to keep up with relevant headlines across various leagues.

Early in my time back at school, I was excited when I was offered a chance to contribute to the sports section of the Aztec Press.

The first sports that I ever covered at Pima were track and field and women’s golf, and I loved every minute of each.

I learned so much about the specific steps it takes to produce a news story. This included meeting the right people, conducting interviews, creating the stories, editing the stories and designing the pages in the computer programs.

I developed a new respect for all of my favorite journalists.

Sports at Pima have definitely been on the come-up since I have been covering them.

The football program behind the leadership of head coach Jim Monaco has seen a recent playoff appearance. Improvements in recruiting every season have resulted in a better product on the field.

It has been an honor to cover Pima sports during Sydni Stallworth’s basketball career. She is a BEAST and one of my favorite Aztec athletes of all time.

I have been on staff to see head softball coach Armando Quiroz win his 400th career game and continue to sustain a consistency throughout his program. I have also seen the steady improvement made in our baseball program through a revamped recruiting effort.

I was lucky enough to cover the men’s basketball team this season as it won the Region I Division II championship for the first time in seven years. There has been an upward trend in the program behind the leadership of head coach Brian Peabody.

I would be remiss not to express a small piece of gratitude to Raymond Suarez. Suarez serves as the sports information director at Pima and is excellent at his job. He is always there for advice and extra information regarding Pima athletics. Great guy.

I am extremely proud to be a part of the Aztec family. I cannot thank my classmates, members of the athletics department and adviser Cynthia Lancaster enough for the opportunity to make something of myself.

Casey Muse Jr., Aztec Press sports editor

Aztecs roll into national tournament

Aztecs roll into national tournament

By CASEY MUSE JR.

Pima men’s basketball wins Region I, Division II title and advance to NJCAA division II national tournament for the first time since 2009.
Photo courtesy of PCC Athletics

The Pima Community College men’s basketball team (22-11, 13-9 conference) found the postseason magic to advance to the NJCAA Division II tournament. This is the Aztecs’ first trip to the big dance in eight years.

The Aztecs won in the first round against a team from Illinois on March 21 and will face No. 1 seed Southwestern Community College of North Carolina on March 23 at 11 a.m.

During the March 8 Region I, Division II semifinal game against Glendale Community College, Ilunga Moise drives to the rim looking to help build on the Aztecs lead. PCC won the game and faced No. 1 seeded Phoenix College in the championship game on March 10.
Nicholas Trujillo / Aztec Press

March 8: PCC 119, Glendale 111

Pima outlasted Glendale Community College in a high-scoring affair at home in the Region I, Division II semifinals.

The No. 2 seeded Aztecs took an early 22-11 lead and never looked back.

The team made their first six threepointers to lead by 21 points. No. 3 seeded Glendale showed fight in the final minutes of the first half to cut the lead to 57-48 at the break.

An early run by Glendale in the second half cut the lead down to two points but PCC showed poise to put the game away.

Six Aztecs scored in double figures.

Sophomore Deion James scored a teamhigh 25 points and added 11 rebounds for his 18th double-double on the season.

Freshman Alize Travis scored 23 points on five-for-seven shooting from the field. He added 15 assists and six steals.

“It was very important to stay calm when the game got close,” Travis said. “Even when momentum is not on your side in the moment, you have to know how to respond and keep playing. Staying poised is a major key.”

Sophomore Damon Dubots contributed 19 points and 12 rebounds.

With the win, the Aztecs earned their first Region I, Division II championship game appearance in seven years.

Head coach Brian Peabody raises the net to celebrate winning the championship game.
Photo courtesy of PCC Athletics

March 10: PCC 102, Phoenix College 99

The No. 2 seeded Aztecs captured their first Region I, Division II championship since 2009 in a close game on the road against No. 1 seed Phoenix College.

The Aztecs were able to sustain a 51-49 lead at halftime.

Phoenix College began the second half on a 10-3 run to take a 59-54 lead. The Aztecs once again showed poise in the big moment, responding with back to back three-pointers to regain the lead.

The game went back and forth the rest of the way as the teams saw eight lead changes in the second half.

In the end, it came down to free throws. James hit a clutch pair to give Pima a 100- 96 lead with 9.8 seconds remaining. The defense held on to seal the victory.

Sophomore Emilio Acedo lead the way as he scored a team-high 27 points shooting six-for-nine from three-point range.

James scored 27 points and added 12 rebounds to earn the Most Valuable Player award for the game, after earning his 19th double-double of the season.

The victory was head coach Brian Peabody’s first region championship since taking over at Pima.

March 21: PCC 93, Waubonsee CC 84

Aztecs surround sophomore Deion James as he holds his trophy as the Region I, Division II championship game’s Most Valuable Player. He scored 27 points and had 12 rebounds.
Photo courtesy of PCC Athletics

The Aztecs took control early in their first-round NJCAA Division II Men’s basketball tournament game against Waubonsee Community College of Illinois.

Pima began on a 12-2 run to take a double- digit lead just minutes in.

The Aztecs maintained the lead on their way to a 40-30 halftime lead.

PCC busted the game open at the start of the second half as Acedo drilled two key three-pointers to help the Aztecs go on a 14-4 run and secure their largest lead of the game.

Waubonsee showed fight but could not battle all the way back.

Acedo finished the game with 14 points after making four three pointers.

James found his stride in the second half and led all scorers with 31 points, shooting 13-for-13 from the free throw line.

Dubots amassed nine points and 11 rebounds.

No. 1 seed Southwestern Community College beat Southern Maryland to face the Aztecs in the quarterfinal game.

Southwestern CC are just short of being undefeated for their season, losing only to Kirkwood CC of Cedar Rapids.

 

James happy to put team on his back

James happy to put team on his back

By CASEY MUSE JR. 

Sophomore big man Deion James has sparked the Pima Community College men’s basketball program this season with both his play on the court and his swagger off it.

No, not his “swag.” Swagger in the sense that James keeps things professional while remaining approachable and light-hearted.

The kid carries himself in a way that is unique but respectful. His personality and demeanor reflect those who raised him.

“My dad has been my biggest influence,” James said. “He has always been a coach on the sideline and throughout life. He has helped me a lot, not only in the game of basketball but in life as well.”

James developed an ealry love for basketball.

Sophomore Deion James pushes past an opponent on his way to a layup.
Photo courtesy of PCC Athletics.

“I got my first basketball for Christmas when I was like 3 years old,” he said. “I carried it with me everywhere.”

A year later, James played his first competitive game. “At the age of 4, my dad put me in my first YMCA league,” he said. “I was a goofy kid who was just running around trying to play defense and steal the ball the whole time.”

James grew up in Vail and received his first opportunity to be a student-athlete at Rincon-Vista Middle School. “My middle school years really served as a transition into my high school years,” he said.

“My middle school coach ended up being my high school coach. I also knew a majority of my teammates from playing with them in middle school.”

The seamless transition helped James make the varsity team his freshman year at Empire High School.

“I actually played a good amount of time my freshman year,” he said. “I think I even started a couple games.” James became the face of the basketball program at Empire, which enjoyed a good reputation for academics and technology but had never really been known for its athletics.

“It was exciting for me to say that I helped a team and school achieve so many goals like that,” he said. “During my time there, the students were a lot more involved. The environment and energy were always great.”

James also helped Empire establish a respectful but heated cross-town rivalry with Cienega High School.

“All of us have bought into

what coach says, and that’s what

makes … us a family.”  Teammate Jacob Anastasi

“All of the Vail kids grew up together,” he said. “We were the little brother of Vail and Cienega was the big brother. They had been there before and established their athletics programs while we were still new to being so relevant.”

The rivalry culminated during his senior year. “The two games we played against them were probably the two biggest basketball games ever played in Vail,” he said. “It was really great for the community.”

By graduation, James had become one of Tucson’s most sought-after Class of 2015 prospects. He commited to play basketball at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, North Carolina.

“That was a good experience overall,” he said. “No complaints.”

However, James left North Carolina A&T after his freshman season. “I just knew that to be the player I wanted to be, I had a better chance somewhere else,” he said.

PCC head coach Brian Peabody recruited James right away, and James accepted Peabody’s offer.

“I had a few options at that time but I really felt like he could help me the most and our team here had the best opportunity to win,” James said. “It was also great to come back home and be so close to my family again,” he said. “Everyone on the team was really cool and inviting to me as well.”

Teammate Jacob Anastasi called James a great player. “It’s nice having him out there because you know that he’s going to go grab 10 rebounds,” Anastasi said. “All of us have bought into what coach says and that’s what makes a program, that’s what makes us a family.”

James has proven to be an absolute monster at the community college level. He took on a leadership role early, and has averaged 20.5 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. He also has a knack for picking up double-doubles, posting a team-high 17 double-doubles.

“It just comes to me,” he said. “It helps me to get into the flow of the game when I am active, crashing the glass and getting put-backs.”

Aztecs to face Glendale in playoff game.

Aztecs to face Glendale in playoff game.

 By CASEY MUSE JR.

The Pima Community College men’s basketball team will be the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Region I, Division II tournament.

PCC will host No. 3 seed Glendale Com munity College on March 8. During their final five games of the sea son, Pima won two games and lost three.

Feb. 15: PCC 110, Cochise 102

The Aztecs earned one of their best wins of the season at home against Cochise College. The game was back and forth to start until Pima took charge halfway through the first half. A 7-0 run gave the Aztecs their first double-digit lead of the game at 32-21  with just over eight minutes left in the half.

PCC strengthened its lead to as much as 14 before settling for a 50-39 halftime lead.  Cochise did all it could to close the gap in the second half and came as close as a seven-point deficit but it was never enough.

Sophomore Emilio Acedo had another good game as he tied for the team high in scoring with 26 points. He shot 4-for-7 from the 3-point line. Freshman Isiah Murphy had one of his best games of the year as he also scored 26 points. He shot 10-for-12 from the free throw line in the process.

Sophomore Damon Dubots contributed 19 points and seven rebounds. Fellow sophomore Deion James secured his 15th double-double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds. The result meant a split in the season head to head with Cochise.

The Aztecs fell 96-83 to the Apaches in Douglas in January. The win also meant Pima had won seven of its last eight games.

Feb. 18: PCC 67, Phoenix College 72

The Aztecs fell in a close game on the road against Phoenix College. The No. 20 Aztecs and No. 11 Bears went back and forth for the entire game. The first half produced nine lead changes and seven ties as the teams went in to halftime tied at 32.

The Aztecs came out strong in the second half, using an 8-0 run with about 12 minutes left in the game to take a 52-46 advantage.

Pima couldn’t maintain, however, and Phoenix College reclaimed the lead with just over five minutes left.

The Aztecs managed to tie the game two more times but could never take back the lead.

Acedo led the way with 20 points. He shot 3-for-6 from the 3-point line. James earned his 16th double-double on the year with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Dubots added 11 points.

Feb. 22: PCC 84, Central Arizona 79

Pima earned a close victory at home against Central Arizona College. The first half was closely contested and the teams entered halftime tied at 33-33. The Aztecs played a strong second half

but Central Arizona was able to keep things close.

Up two points with 27 seconds left, Acedo iced the game on a clutch 3-point shot. James scored a team-high 20 points to go along with eight rebounds. Acedo finished the game with 13 points

and seven rebounds.

Pima also earned 34 bench points. The win earned head coach Brian Peabody the most wins he has ever had in a season at Pima, with 19. The win also offered revenge for a 103-97 loss the Aztecs took from Central Arizona in January.

Feb. 25: PCC 93, Mesa 94

The Aztecs played such a close game on the road against Mesa that regulation just was not enough.

Pima had a hot start to the game and broke out to an early 23-16 lead. The lead grew to as many as nine points but Mesa came back to regain the lead by halftime. Pima entered the second half down 41-40.

Mesa was in control for most of the second half until a late Aztec run forced overtime. Mesa owned the overtime period and scored the game’s final five points to win it. James earned his 17th double-double of the season with 27 points and 11 rebounds. Three other players scored 17 points

each.

Mesa earned its revenge as Pima defeated the Thunderbirds 115-78 at home in January.

Feb. 28: PCC 71, Arizona Western 98

It was a rough night for the Aztecs in their final home game of the season. Pima fell behind early to Division I opponent Arizona Western and could never chip their way back into it. James scored a team-high 15 points, while Acedo contributed 14 points.

All of the sophomores were honored during halftime.

 

SOFTBALL: Pima trying to find batting consistency

SOFTBALL: Pima trying to find batting consistency

By CASEY MUSE JR.

The Pima Community College softball team has entered the full swing of the regular season. Players are looking to establish some consistency with their bats as they look to reach their full potential.

Feb. 16: PCC 10, Colorado Northwestern 13 / PCC 6, Colorado Northwestern 3

The Aztecs split a non-conference home match-up with Colorado Northwestern. Both offenses were on fire in the first game.

Freshman Megan Flores finished with one run scored, sophomore Bailey Critchlow finished the game three for five, with two RBIs and three runs scored.

Freshman Mandy Lorenson took the loss in the game after pitching two relief innings. She finished with three hits, three strikeouts and seven walks.

The Aztecs learned their lesson and did not let the lead slip in the second game.

In the first inning, sophomore Amy Pacheco drove in fellow sophomore Margarita Corona and Flores. Pima added two more in the fourth inning to make the score 5-0.

Critchlow earned the win as she shutout the Spartans for the entire game, finishing with three earned runs, six hits, four strikeouts and four walks.

Feb. 18: PCC 6, Central Arizona CC 5

Pima was able to win one conference game before the rain in a home meeting.

Things started out slow for the Aztecs as they fell to an early 5-0 deficit. However, PCC rallied and scored six unanswered runs, to give Central Arizona their first ACCAC conference loss.

Critchlow hit the game winning RBI single to score freshman Edith Prieto. Pima didn’t have any runs on the board until the fifth inning.

Critchlow took the win, pitching the entire game. She finished with five runs earned, 10 hits, one strikeout, and five walks.

The second game of the doubleheader was postponed for March 9, due to the weather.

Feb. 21: PCC 10, Eastern 9 / PCC 6, Eastern 8

Pima split a conference meeting with Eastern Arizona at home.

Pima took the lead early on back-to-back RBIs from Sophomores Courtney Brown and Critchlow. Eastern Arizona began their comeback in fifth inning and by the seventh, the Gila Monsters had a one run lead of their own.

Critchlow clutched a walkoff two run RBI single to win the game. Critchlow also earned the win as she pitched the entire game finishing with 10 hits, one strikeout and two walks.

Eastern Arizona was surely out for revenge in the second game. The game remained close throughout as the Gila Monsters were able to score the tying run in the seventh to send the game to extra innings. Pima just could not find any offense in the eighth and Eastern Arizona was able to score two runs to steal the win.

Sophomore Luisa Silvain took the loss as she pitched the entire game and finished with 12 hits, three strikeouts and three walks.

Feb. 25: PCC 8, Scottsdale 0 / PCC 11, Scottsdale 0

The Aztecs dominated the conference double header with Scottsdale Community College.

The first game was busted open by the Aztecs in the third inning, scoring seven runs. They did not look back from there and carried the momentum over into the second game.

The team was able to score nine runs in the fourth inning of game two and never let the Artichokes score any runs of their own. Both games ended in a shutout.

Sophomore Luisa Silvain earned the win in the first game finishing with five hits and three strikeouts. Freshman Megan Lorenson got the win in the second game, finishing with two hits, seven strikeouts and two walks.

Nicholas Trujillo./Aztec Press Margarita Corona goes for swings against GateWay Community College, on Valentines Day.

 

ATHLETIC VOICE: Madness launches March 14

ATHLETIC VOICE: Madness launches March 14

By CASEY MUSE JR.

Ah, March. This the month in which the weather warms, the plants grow and the nation’s most intense single-elimination sports tournament occurs.

The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament will take place March 14-April 3, with games occurring in venues all across the country.

The tournament is an opportunity for 68 college teams that all hope to hoist a gold-plated Wooden NCAA National Championship trophy.

It’s also one of the biggest and most viewed sporting events in North America.

The 2016 national championship game between Villanova University and the University of North Carolina drew 17.8 million viewers, according to the International Business Times.

People everywhere wait for the fateful Sunday when they can begin filling out their personal brackets.

This year’s Selection Sunday falls on March 12.

Everyone attempts to display college basketball genius as they predict various upsets across their bracket.

Some participate in online challenges or office pools for money.

This is what “March Madness” is all about.

Many tune into games in which they have no personal interest, just to root for the underdog.

People at work can be found sneaking a stream on their office computer or smartphone.

There is something about the tournament that makes everyone act a little crazy.

This year provides a bit of hometown incentive for Arizonans, as the Final Four will be held at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

The Arizona site marks the first time a Final Four has been scheduled in the west since 1995, when it was held in Seattle.

The presale cost is up, with single- game Final Four tickets costing anywhere from $230 to $430.

Many take the gamble of purchasing tickets in hopes that their favorite team will make it. Some have no dog in the fight and just go to enjoy the experience.

Regardless of personal motives, the Final Four and the entire NCAA tournament truly make the month of March special.

Fill out your brackets, represent your school and enjoy the greatest tournament in America.

 

Who do you think will win it all? Share your prediction in a comment below.

SOFTBALL: Aztecs looking for consistency during season start

SOFTBALL: Aztecs looking for consistency during season start

By CASEY MUSE JR

The Pima Community College softball team eased into the season with some key wins at the beginning of conference play. The Aztecs are striving for consistency in their pitching as well as trying to keep their bats healthy.

Jan. 31: PCC 0, Arizona Western 6 / PCC 5, Arizona Western 4

The Aztecs were able to split in their conference opener on the road against Arizona Western College.

Pima was shutout in the first game as the team was unable to earn any runs off of their seven hits.

Freshman Edith Prieto went two-for-three from the plate but was unable to parlay anything into a score. Arizona Western scored three runs in the third inning and two more in the fifth to bust the game open.

Sophomore Baily Critchlow took the loss in the game as she pitched five innings. She finished with eight hits, two strikeouts and one walk.

The Aztecs fell behind in the second game 2-0, but finally found some offense in the fifth inning as sophomore Margarita Corona hit a two-run RBI single to give PCC a 3-2 lead. The Aztecs would strengthen their lead to 5-3 before the end of the inning.

Freshman pitcher Mandy Lorenson finished her complete game with a strikeout on the final batter as Arizona Western left the tying runner stranded on third. Lorenson finished with six hits, seven strikeouts and five walks.

 

Feb. 4: PCC 13, Glendale 1 / PCC 5, Glendale 4

Pima earned a sweep in a home doubleheader against Glendale Community College. The Aztecs dominated the first game early, scoring 11 runs in the first three innings.

Critchlow threw the three innings, and picked up a win giving up one hit and no runs. Pima was solid in all aspects as they finished with a 13-1 win.

The second game was much closer as it took a game winning RBI double from Corona to seal it. The Aztecs had another solid start in this game, scoring two runs in the first inning.

Glendale would battle back to obtain the lead and set things up for Corona’s heroic moment in the end.

Critchlow picked up another win in a relief effort. She gave up no hits and earned a strikeout in the final two innings. Freshman Mandy Lorenson started the game and finished with eight hits, four strikeouts and four walks.

 

Feb. 7: PCC 9, Mesa 5 / PCC 12, Mesa 5 

The Aztecs picked up another big sweep on the road this, as Pima was sharp in this conference meeting at Mesa.

The offense was big during the mid-innings in the first game as Freshman Alyssa Smith hit an RBI double in the fifth inning and Sophomore Gabriela Trejo cracked a two-run home run in the sixth inning. Trejo finished the contest three-for-four two RBIs and two runs scored.

Critchlow earned the win after pitching a complete game, finishing with nine hits, four strikeouts, and two walks.

The Aztecs were able to take a big lead in the second game during the fifth inning. Pima was up 5-4 at this point in the game but scored seven runs in the fifth to put the game away.

Freshman Hannah Freer got the win in a relief appearance. She pitched the final three innings and ended with four hits, two strikeouts and one walk.

 

Feb. 11: PCC 4, Yavapai College 12 / PCC 2, Yavapai College 15

It was a tough day for the Aztecs at home against Yavapai College. PCC gave up a total of 27 runs between two games and were never able to get anything going.

Yavapai started the first game hot and never looked back. The roughriders were able to score two runs in five of the seven innings played.

Sophomore Courtney Brown provided a bright spot for the Aztecs as she hit a solo home run in the third inning. Brown finished the game 2 for 4 with two runs scored and an RBI.

Critchlow took the loss as she pitched two innings and gave up four runs. Critchlow finished with six hits, one strikeout, and two walks.

The second game did not go any better as Yavapai scored five runs in the first inning and another six runs in the fifth to finish the dominant performance.

Freshman Mandy Lorenson took the loss after pitching two-thirds of an inning giving up five runs on five walks.

 

Feb. 14: PCC 3, Gateway 5 / PCC 12, Gateway 0

Pima was able to split with Gateway Community College at home.

The Aztecs fell behind early in the first game and were never able to quite catch up in the end. Critchlow took the loss pitching a complete game with five earned runs, eight hits, four strikeouts and two walks.

The second game was much different as PCC was able to jump out to an early lead themselves scoring eight runs in the first inning. Gateway was not able to recover. Sophomore Luisa Silvain earned the win as she pitched the whole game with two hits, three strikeouts and two walks.

 

ON DECK

Feb. 18: Central Arizona College, West Campus, doubleheader 12 p.m. & 2 p.m.

Feb. 21: Eastern Arizona College, West Campus, doubleheader 1 p.m. & 3 p.m.

Feb. 25: Scottsdale CC, West Campus, doubleheader 12 p.m. & 2 p.m.

Feb. 28: @Chandler-Gilbert CC, Chandler, AZ, doubleheader 1 p.m. & 3 p.m.

 

MEN'S BASKETBALL: Aztecs catching fire at right time

MEN’S BASKETBALL: Aztecs catching fire at right time

Casey Muse Jr./Aztec Press Sophomore guard Zach Evans dribbles past a South Mountain defender.

By CASEY MUSE JR

The Pima Community College men’s basketball team has won five of their last six games and is finding consistency on both ends of the court as they inch closer to postseason play. The team is all about staying together and filling their roles. 

Feb. 4: PCC 111, Eastern Arizona 100

The Aztecs were able to pick up a conference win in Thatcher against Eastern Arizona.

Both teams were hot on offense in the first half as the game was tied 55-55 at the break.

Pima was able to tighten up its defense just enough in the second half and the offense didn’t falter down the stretch for the 111-100 result.

Sophomore Emilio Acedo was on fire from three-point range, making eight, on his way to a team high 36 points.

Sophomore Deion James came up with 26 points and nine rebounds and fellow sophomore Damon Dubots scored 23 points. Freshman Isaiah Murphy added 16 points and seven rebounds off of the bench.

The Aztecs swept Eastern Arizona this season as they won a home meeting with the Gila Monsters 94-88 in December.

Feb. 8: PCC 121, South Mountain CC 92

Pima was able to play a dominant first half in a home contest against South Mountain.

South Mountain used a 26-9 run in the second half to close the gap to eight points. That was as close as it got as the Aztecs responded with a 22-10 run of their own regaining control for good.

James accumulated his 14th double-double of the season with a team high 29 points and 12 rebounds. Acedo had another big night scoring 28 points on seven three-point shots.

Murphy and Dubots each added 16 points. The result was another season sweep for Pima as they took the previous meeting in Phoenix, 116-84. 

Feb. 11: PCC 76, Scottsdale CC 73

Pima had a strong second half to come back against Scottsdale Community College on the road. It was a low scoring game throughout, as the Aztecs struggled to find consistent offense in the first half. The result was a 41-35 deficit for PCC at the break.

Freshmen Ilunga Moise and Alize Travis provided a much needed spark off of the bench in the second half as they combined for 29 points. Moise earned a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds and Travis contributed 15 points and four assists.

“The style of play has been working well.” Travis said. “We like to get out and run and we have some guys who can fill it up so I’ve just been trying to put them in the best position to get easy shots.”

Murphy led the team in scoring with 18 points as well as nine rebounds.

The win tallied another season sweep for the Aztecs as they won their home meeting with the Artichokes 108-83 last month.

“We have been playing well as a unit over the last three games.” Travis explained. “Executing the game plan has been our focus and as the season is coming to an end we are looking forward to keeping the momentum but we still have a lot of work to do.”

ON DECK

Feb. 18: at Phoenix College, 4 p.m.

Feb. 22: Central Arizona, West Cmapus, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 25: at Mesa CC, 4p.m.

Feb. 28: Arizona Western, West Campus, 7:30 p.m.

Pro hockey finds home in Old Pueblo

Pro hockey finds home in Old Pueblo

By CASEY MUSE JR.

Ice hockey surely is not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of things to do in Tucson.

Average temperatures regularly reach the 70s during winter months and snow is pretty much a foreign object.

Despite all that, the National Hockey League Arizona Coyotes agreed in April 2016 to purchase their American Hockey League affiliate team, the Springfield Falcons, and relocate them to Tucson.

In May, the team signed a 10-year lease to play home games at the Tucson Convention Center downtown.

After a local naming contest, the franchise officially became the Tucson Roadrunners.

Mark Lamb of the Western Hockey League’s Swift Current Broncos became the Roadrunners’ first head coach in June.

“We have a lot of guys playing hard,” Lamb said. “Talent-wise and player-wise, we are working hard.”

New franchise brass have worked hard to put together a competitive roster in the first year.

Young stars like defenseman Kyle Wood offer an opportunity for locals to experience the future of professional hockey.

“It’s been really fun playing here,” Wood said.

Besides building a winner, the biggest challenge for the team is garnering community support. Several names behind the scenes are determined to do just that.

Director of Media Relations Tom Callahan is an East Coast guy who has loved the sport of hockey since he was a kid.

“Coming to a market like Tucson, where I believe only University of Arizona club hockey has been played occasionally, is definitely a challenge,” Callahan said. “It is like a mission to bring hockey to people who may or may not be fans, or maybe they are casual fans.”

Callahan stressed the importance of exposing children to the game.

“There are kids out here who are experiencing their first hockey game and maybe they are hooked, maybe they’ve found a new favorite player and will try to get their parents to take them skating and get them involved,” he said. “It is all about sharing that passion and creating fans.”

Callahan broadcasts play-by-play for every game on AM radio 1450. The station is also available on the iheartradio app for students.

To encourage attendance, the club offers a Tucson Roadrunners student rush pass.

Eligible students can visit tucsonroadrunners.com and provide their name, phone number and an active collegiate email address.

The club will contact students via text message on game day to offer special drink and concession deals.

Digital Operations Manager Alexander Kinkopf is in charge of running the team’s various social media accounts, and considers it his job to make hockey appealing to college students.

“People get so tired of the traditional final scores or player updates,” he said. “When people see an official team account show some sort of personality or some sort of voice, it really strikes a chord.”

Kinkopf keeps up with trends in an effort to make the Roadrunner’s social media more relatable.

“One of the most fun parts of my job is to be able to be creative with the sport and to be able to relate it to pop culture,” he said.

Kinkopf encourages students to follow the Roadrunners on Twitter @RoadrunnersAHL or like the team page on Facebook.

“It is very important to us to cater to the local college students here,” he said.

Hockey is arguably the most entertaining sport on the planet. It is fast-paced and action-packed, making it is easy for a casual fan to evolve into a die-hard.

Pima Community College students can enjoy the experience first-hand by supporting the Tucson Roadrunners.

Single-game tickets start at $14. For more information or to buy tickets, call 866-77-HOCKEY toll-free or visit tucsonroadrunners.com.


ON DECK

Feb. 24, 25, 28: San Jose, TCC, 7:05 p.m.

March 17, 18: Bakersfield, TCC, 7:05 p.m.

March 25: San Jose, TCC, 7:05 p.m.

March 26: San Jose, TCC, 4:05 p.m.

March 28: San Antonio, TCC, 7:05 p.m.

March 31: San Diego, TCC, 7:05 p.m.

April 1: San Diego, TCC, 7:05 p.m.

 

Roadrunners right winger Anthony Duclair looks for a pass in a home game against San Diego on Jan. 28 at the Tucson Convention Center.

ATHLETIC VOICE: Trump: 'yuge' sports guy

ATHLETIC VOICE: Trump: ‘yuge’ sports guy

 

By CASEY MUSE JR.

 Donald J. Trump was officially sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Jan. 20.

As split as society may be, we must try to make the best of the situation and educate ourselves about our new commander in chief.

Sports have a knack for making anyone more relatable. Trump is actually very knowledgeable about many American sports and even participated at a young age.

He was a three-sport athlete at the New York Military Academy from 1959-1964, participating in baseball and football, and playing one season of varsity soccer. Rumor has it that Trump could have pursued a professional baseball career.

As a businessman in the 1980s, Trump facilitated two consecutive WrestleMania events in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Before long, he was regularly participating in WWE promotions and grew a significant fan base. Trump was stunned by Stone Cold Steve Austin himself, who was the biggest star in entertainment wrestling in the 2000s.

Trump was inducted into the celebrity section of the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.

He also owned the USFL football New Jersey Generals franchise in the mid-1980s, and spent loads of money to recruit Heisman trophy winners such as Herschel Walker and Doug Flutie.

Not surprisingly, Trump kept league media busy when he stirred up controversy.

The USFL was supposed to eventually overtake the NFL as the top football league in the country, which never happened. The league folded in 1986 and everyone involved, including Trump, was forced to move on.

Trump’s relationships with professional athletes made recent headlines during his presidential campaign. None was more prominent than his rapport with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

The two apparently exchange text messages often. Brady supposedly texted a lengthy congratulatory text shortly after Trump’s inauguration ceremony.

The friendship seems inevitable. Brady is a wealthy winner with an extremely competitive attitude. Sound familiar?

Despite all of these ties to various sports, Trump seems to hold golf most dear.

All-time golf great Tiger Woods and Trump made headlines in late 2016 after they were seen playing a few holes together at one of Trump’s Florida courses.

Trump’s name can be found on 17 golf properties around the world and it is well known that he plays often.

He should have no problems finding proper conditions to play in Washington D.C. during his term in office. Let’s just hope he finds some time to do some presidential work between rounds.

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SOFTBALL: Aztecs continue to establish program

By CASEY MUSE JR

After a promising non-conference start to the season, the Pima Community College softball team opened conference play with a split at Arizona Western College in Yuma.

The No. 18-ranked Aztecs were held scoreless in the first game, but rallied in the second to take a 5-4 victory.

In the first game, Pima struggled to get the bats going, managing just seven hits. Freshman Edith Prieto led the team at the plate, batting 2-for-3.

Sophomore Margarita Corona led the Aztecs back in the second contest, batting 3-for-4 and driving in two runs. Freshman Mandy Lorenson was the winning pitcher, allowing four runs while striking out seven.

The softball team began its 2016-2017 season in the Southern Nevada Kick-Off Classic on Jan. 27, winning three of five games.

The Aztecs are coming off a productive 2015-16 campaign that saw them finish with an overall record of 47-19-1.

Pima fought its way last season to the Region I Division II championship game, where it fell to Phoenix College by a final score of 11-3. The team will be looking this season to reclaim that level of success and take the next step.

In 67 games last season, the Aztecs scored 523 runs with a .397 batting average and a .472 on-base percentage. They also cracked 38 home runs last season.

Sophomore Courtney Brown will look to improve upon her team-high 97 hits and 75 runs. Brown had the opportunity to emerge into a leadership role her freshman season, so now there are no surprises about her capabilities.

Corona and fellow sophomore Bailey Critchlow each posted 80 hits and 59 runs last season.

Critchlow will also be asked step up in the pitching department for the Aztecs, and may be the team’s ace. She appeared in 31 games last season and posted a record of 19-8 with an overall ERA of 4.50.

Fellow sophomore Luisa F. Silvain, returning after 29 game appearances in 2016, will also have an opportunity to step up as a pitcher. Last year, she posted a record of five wins and two losses and an overall ERA of 4.68.

On defense, the Aztecs return all three base players.

Sophomore Amy Pacheco returns for first base after appearing in 29 games last season.

Sophomore Gabriela Trejo will return to second after appearing in 56 games last season. Fellow sophomore Larissa Rodriguez will be back at third after appearing in 43 games last season.

Familiarity with teammates should be a huge advantage for the Aztecs this spring. Pima will look for another successful season under Coach Armando Quiroz, who won his 400th career game last season.

It is all about taking it one game at a time for the Aztecs, who opened the season ranked No. 18 in the NJCAA Poll.

 

ON DECK

Feb 4: Glendale CC, West Campus, doubleheader, noon and 2 p.m.

Feb 7: at Mesa CC, doubleheader, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Feb 11: Yavapai College, West Campus, doubleheader, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Lethal offense gets Pima back on track

Lethal offense gets Pima back on track

By CASEY MUSE JR

The Pima Community College men’s basketball team rode a six-game winning streak during winter break.

The team suffered its first loss during a road contest with Cochise College on Jan. 7, and then dropped three straight games from there. The Aztecs’ second-half performances were their downfall.

With school back in session, the team looked to get back on track and find a way to play a complete game.

Jan. 14: PCC 97, Central Arizona College 103

 PCC dropped it third straight game against Central Arizona College on the road.

The Aztecs were in control in the first half, leading by as much as 11. They took a 46-41 lead into halftime but could not maintain their good performance in the second half. Pima was outscored 62-51 and lost the game 103-97.

Sophomore Zach Evans led the team with 27 points and freshman Isaiah Murphy scored 15 points.

“It is important for us to get our guys playing well and for them to see the ball go through the hoop,” Evans said after the game. “Hopefully we can bring more energy the next game and to the rest of the season.”

Jan. 18: PCC 115, Mesa CC 78

 The Aztecs got back to winning in a home conference game against Mesa Community College. Pima dominated the entire game, and never trailed.

Sophomore Emilio Acedo made eight 3-pointers to score a team-high 26 points. Fellow sophomore Jacob Anastasi added 23 points.

Sophomore Deion James had his 10th double-double of the season with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Evans also had a double-double, with 12 points and 11 assists.

“This was a really important win for us getting back on track,” Evans said. “Deion had a huge game tonight.”

Jan. 21: PCC 97, Arizona Western College 101

 Pima made it close at the end but was not able to overcome a double-digit deficit against Arizona Western College in Yuma.

The Aztecs were down 94-80 with 1:46 left in the game, and then Acedo began making threes. Pima cut the lead to 4 points with 7.8 seconds left but the Matadors made their free throws and sealed the game.

Acedo finished with 22 points and six rebounds. Anastasi scored 22 points and James added another double-double to his resume with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Jan. 25: PCC 96, Tohono O’odham CC 91

 Pima returned to winning ways in a road game against Tohono O’odham. It was a satisfying piece of revenge for the Aztecs, who fell to Tohono O’odham 85-82 at home in November.

The game was close throughout, and Pima found itself trailing at the half. PCC used a strong second half to close things out, outscoring the Jegos 54-43 in the period.

James led the way with 16 points. Freshman Alize Travis was huge off the bench with 13 points on 3-for-5 shooting from 3-point range as well as 4-for-4 shooting from the free throw line.

Jan. 28: PCC 98, Chandler-Gilbert CC 87

 The Aztecs won their second game in a row at home against Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Pima was in control throughout the game and led by as many as 17 points in the second half.

James earned his 12th double-double of the season, finishing with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Anastasi added 24 points and seven rebounds.

“We have a very talented and unselfish team that’s willing to make the extra pass,” Anastasi said. “It’s about taking what the defense gives you. We trust each other and we all have our roles and know them and that’s vital to the team’s success.”

Murphy was the leading scorer off of the bench with 23 points. Acedo rounded out the double-digit scoring with 11 points.

Feb. 1: PCC 87 Glendale 94

 The Aztecs dropped a conference game on the road against Glendale Community College.

Pima played a good first half and took a 49-45 lead into the break.

Unfortunately, the team dealt with foul trouble during the second half as sophomore Deion James resisted picking up his fifth and final foul during the final stretch. James was still able to score a team high 25 points despite being on the verge of disqualification. Freshman Isaiah Murphy contributed 16 points and sophomore Damon Dubots added 15 of his own.

The result meant a season split with the Gauchos, PCC took a previous meeting at home 108-96 in December.

Casey Muse jr./Aztec Press Freshman Guard Isaiah Murphy goes up strong during the Dec. 7 matchup with Eastern.

 

 

 

ON DECK

Feb 4: at Eastern Arizona College, Thatcher, 7:30 p.m.

Feb 8: South Mountain CC, West Campus, 7:30 p.m.

Feb 11: at Scottsdale CC, 5 p.m.

Feb 15: Cochise College, West Campus, 7:30 p.m.

MEN'S BASKETBALL: Aztecs win two conference games in a row

MEN’S BASKETBALL: Aztecs win two conference games in a row

By CASEY MUSE JR

The Pima Community College men’s basketball team (7-3, 2-1 in ACCAS) won two important conference games on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3, continuing to make strides toward improvement after losing its conference opener on Nov. 22.

Every game is critical for the Aztecs as they prepare for some time off during winter break.

A Dec. 7 game against Eastern Arizona Community College took place after the Aztec Press went to the printer.

Pima next plays South Mountain Community College in Phoenix on Dec. 10 at 4 p.m.

 

Nov. 22: PCC 82, Tohono O’ Odham 85 

Pima played a close game but was unable to come away with the win in its first ACCAC conference contest. PCC fell at home 85-82 to Tohono O’ Odham Community College.

The Aztecs kept it close most of the contest but allowed a late 9-2 run by Tohono O’ Odham that sealed the win.

Freshman Isaiah Murphy finished the game with a team-high 25 points, shooting 10-for-12 from the free throw line in the process. Sophomore Deion James was next up with 19 points and nine rebounds.

Sophomore Emilio Acedo scored 16 points, all in the second half, and sophomore Zach Evans rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points.

 

Nov. 30: PCC 91, Chandler-Gilbert CC 76

The Aztecs battled on the road to earn their first ACCAC conference win of the season, a 91-76 victory over Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

Pima was in control the entire game. The team took a 48-33 lead into the halftime break and maintained the double-digit lead through the entire second half.

Sophomore Deion James led the team in scoring with 17 points. Three other Aztecs also scored in double figures. Sophomore Damon Dubots had 16 points, Acedo scored 15 points and freshman Alize Travis had 12 points.

“We are very focused right now,” Travis said. “This is conference play now, so we are all locked in. Coach has been preaching trust and effort, so we have been trying to be as selfless as possible every time we touch the floor.”

 

Dec. 3: PCC 108, Glendale CC 96 

Pima played another complete game to secure a 108-96 conference victory over Glendale Community College.

The Aztecs controlled the first half and led 56-42 at the break.

Glendale found life in the second half, and steadily cut into the lead. The closest it got was a 95-90 Pima lead with 6:09 left in the game. The Aztecs came together for one final surge and put the game away.

Sophomores Jacob Anastasi and Deion James led the team on an 11-0 run down the stretch to secure the lead and victory. Anastasi finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds while James earned 17 points.

Acedo was the overall leading scorer for the game, with 25 points. Murphy earned a double-double off the bench with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

“It is all about playing together and executing,” sophomore Zach Evans said about the two wins.

 

ON DECK

Dec. 10: at South Mountain Community College, Phoenix, 4 p.m.

 

Sophomore guard Zach Evans plays defense against New Mexico JC at the Native American Classic. (Ashley Munoz/Aztec Press)

SPORTS BRIEFS

SPORTS BRIEFS

Pima to honor fall teams Dec. 12

The Pima Community College athletics department will host a Fall Sports Celebration on Monday, Dec. 12, from 6-7:30 p.m. at the West Campus Center for the Arts Proscenium Theatre.

Six fall teams – men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, football and volleyball – will be recognized for their season accomplishments. Refreshments will be served after the program.

Coaches, players, family members, friends and community fans are welcome to attend. RSVP by Dec. 8 by emailing April Jessee at ajessee@pima.edu or Raymond Suarez at rmsuarez1@pima.edu.

-By Casey Muse Jr.

 

Dec. 15 fundraiser aids injury management

PCC’s sports injury management department will hold a fundraiser on Thursday, Dec. 15, from 11 a.m. to closing at Buffalo Wild Wings, 4329 N. Oracle Road, Suite 135.

When customers say they support the sports injury management department or present a fundraising ticket to their server, Buffalo Wild Wings will donate 10 percent of the bill to the department.

The sports injury management team is in charge of providing health and safety to all 16 teams that make up the athletic department.

-By Casey Muse Jr.

 

Hector Banegas (Photo courtesy of PCC Athletics)

Banegas makes NJCAA All-American list

Soccer standout Hector Banegas won a variety of post-season awards, including being named a third-team NJCAA All-American.

In addition, he was named a first team National Soccer Coaches Associate of America All-American. He was runner-up for ACCAC/Region I Player of the Year and earned first team All-ACCAC/Region 1 honors. He was also named first team NSCAA Junior College Division I All-West Region.

The sophomore forward led the team in scoring with 17 goals, and provided seven assists.

Banegas played in 21 games this fall after returning from a string of injuries during the 2015 season that required multiple surgeries.

His final goal came in dramatic fashion when he scored a last-minute game winner on Oct. 27 in a semifinal match against Arizona Western College.

The Aztecs ended the season with an 18-3-1 record. They won their third consecutive Region I, Division I Championship against Phoenix College on Oct. 29.

-By Francisco Zapata

MEN'S BASKETBALL: Aztecs ready selves for conference play

MEN’S BASKETBALL: Aztecs ready selves for conference play

By CASEY MUSE JR

 

The Pima Community College men’s basketball team faced quality competition in preconference games that offered opportunities for the Aztecs to test themselves before conference play began Nov. 22.

The first conference game, against Tohono O’Odham Community College, took place after Aztec Press went to the printer.

 

Nov. 9: PCC 133, Arizona Christian JV 87

The Aztecs got off to a hot start in a 133-87 home win against Arizona Christian University’s JV team.

Pima opened with a 20-4 run and took a 65-45 lead into the halftime break. Another 17-0 run at the end of the third quarter put the game away.

Sophomores led the way, with Damon Dubots scoring 27 points and seven rebounds. Emilio Acedo knocked down four 3-pointers on his way to a 21-point, seven-rebound game and Jacob Anastasi recorded a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

 

Nov. 13: PCC 92, Utah State-Eastern 90

 Pima faced its first true test of the season and came away with a 92-90 victory over Utah State University-Eastern.

The Aztecs and Eagles battled to a 46-46 halftime tie. Pima took a double-digit lead in the third quarter but surrendered a big run in the fourth to keep the game tight until the end.

Defense won the day as the Aztecs hit a pair of key three pointers and made key stops to obtain the victory.

Acedo led the way with 24 points, shooting 6 for 12 from the three-point line.

 

Nov. 17: PCC 86, New Mexico JC 99

PCC suffered its first loss of the season in a 99-86 contest against Division I New Mexico JC on the first day of the Native American Classic.

The Aztecs kept it close in the first half, going into the break down three points.

Sophomore Deion James gave Pima the lead on a technical foul free throw with 18 minutes left. New Mexico then went on an 11-0 run to take a double digit lead and control of the game. The Aztecs cut into the lead slightly but were never able to complete a comeback.

James finished the game with a double-double, 25 points and 10 rebounds. Acedo had a solid game as well scoring 19 points.

 

Nov. 18: PCC 95, Salt Lake CC 102

The Aztecs showed heart in their 102-95 loss to last season’s NJCAA Division I national champion, Salt Lake Community College.

Pima fell behind 56-36 at halftime but went on a 19-4 run halfway through the second half to claw their way back into the game.

Acedo and Freshman Isaiah Murphy were key during the comeback run.

The Aztecs got as close as one point but were never able to overtake the lead. Murphy finished the game with 28 points.

 

Nov. 19: PCC 120, Pascua Yaqui 113

Pima won a shootout against Pascua Yaqui 120-113 on the final day of the Native American Classic.

The Aztecs took a 59-47 lead into the halftime break. They would lead by as much as 21 points but allowed a late barrage from Pascua Yaqui that cut into the lead.

Sophomore Dakota Kordsiemon led the team with 26 points. Freshman Ilunga Moise had a double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds.

Freshman Alize Travis contributed 24 points, and sophomore Zach Evans finished with 21 points as well.

“All of our players weren’t even able to play tonight.” Evans said after the game. “If we all play and play together, I believe that we are good enough to make nationals.”

 

ON DECK

Nov. 30: at Chandler-Gilbert CC, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 3: Glendale CC, West Campus gym, 4 p.m.

Dec. 7: Eastern Arizona College, West Campus gym, 7:30 p.m.

Dakota Kordsiemon, a sophomore, was the game's high scorer with 26 points. Phto by Katelyn Roberts

Dakota Kordsiemon, a sophomore, was the game’s high scorer with 26 points.
Photo by Katelyn Roberts