By STEVE CHOICE
Brian Peabody is back for his second stint as the men’s basketball coach at Pima Community College, and he loves what he’s seeing.
“I couldn’t be happier about being here,” Peabody said. “It’s been night and day from the first time around. It seems like we’re so much further ahead in the game.
“Everybody’s very supportive and working toward the same goal. You can definitely feel the difference.”
Peabody, 50, coached the Aztecs in the 2003-04 season after having led local high school power Salpointe Catholic to a pair of state runner-up finishes in his 10 years there.
He led PCC to a 7-23 record before leaving to take a job as an assistant coach with Western Carolina University (N.C.), a Division I school.
The Catamounts faltered in Peabody’s time there. After a year, he returned to Tucson.
“I’m glad I did it,” Peabody said of his time in the Tar Heel State. “It was an adventure for my family and me. Beautiful part of the country.”
He then guided Ironwood Ridge High School’s program for six years, including a state championship in 2008 and a runner-up finish in 2009.
Now Peabody takes over for Gabriel Van Guse, whose teams went 4-25 and 6-24 during his two-year tenure, including an 18-game losing streak to finish out this past year.
Peabody has plenty of items on his to-do list, not the least of which is seeing which Aztecs will be coming back to play in a Pima uniform.
“I’ve met with all the current players, and I’m going to start working the guys out to see if it’s a good fit,” Peabody said. “We’re kind of feeling each other out at this point.
“They want to know more about me, and I want to know more about them. We’ll go from there.”
Freshman center Stephen Hadley is one player who’s already looking forward to the program’s new leadership.
“I’m excited he’s here,” he said. “I worked out with him yesterday, and it was really good. He knows what he’s doing, knows what he’s talking about.”
Peabody is also busy recruiting new faces into the program. His efforts got off to a good start on April 9, when he signed his top recruiting priority, 6-foot-4 forward Bryan Cervantes from Nogales.
“We’re very excited to have him in the program,” Peabody said.
Peabody said his teams will “get up and down the floor” if he has the right personnel to do it, and also stressed the importance of team play.
“We’re going to be really unselfish on both ends of the floor,” he said. “They’re going to have to help each other out defensively.”
More than anything, Peabody seeks to establish stability within the program.
“The most important thing to me is getting quality kids in here,” he said. “If I start the first semester with 15 kids on my roster, I want 15 kids on my roster the second semester.
“I don’t want there to be one style of basketball played in the beginning of the year, and then have drastic changes later because of personnel issues.”
Peabody believes getting to know his players in a more comprehensive way will help accomplish that.
“I want to develop a relationship with them,” he said. “Not just in basketball terms, but also how they’re doing academically. What’s their family situation, their financial situation, where are they living?
“It’s a process, but I think we’ve gotten a good jump on it so far.”
By STEVE CHOICE
The Pima Community College women’s basketball team came up one game short in its bid to make the NJCAA national tournament, falling 58-45 at Mesa Community College on March 7.
PCC gave itself the opportunity to advance to nationals with a first-round playoff victory over South Mountain Community College at home on March 5.
Pima finished the year at 17-15, including 12-9 in the ACCAC.
The Aztecs bolted to an 18-5 lead against Mesa, but the Thunderbirds used a 20-2 run to take a 25-22 advantage into halftime.
PCC cut Mesa’s lead to nine points twice in the second half, but could get no closer.
“It just wasn’t our best game,” freshman guard Rachel Williams said. “Our shots weren’t falling. We got off to a great start, but after that we just weren’t clicking.”
Freshman guard Felicia Foster led Pima with 13 points. Sophomore center A’jha Edwards finished with six points and 19 rebounds.
Despite the playoff loss, Williams was upbeat about the team’s accomplishments.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better season,” she said. “After starting 2-7, nobody thought we’d be here.
“These girls are like my sisters now, and I can’t wait until next year.”
Pima will have to replace some significant pieces from this year’s squad, including Edwards, who was named ACCAC Division II Player of the Year on Feb. 23.
The center from Sierra Vista averaged 13.8 points per game, along with 13.6 rebounds per contest.
Guard D.J. Davis is another key cog who will be departing. Davis averaged 10.6 points, and was the team’s deadliest outside threat.
Other sophomores who closed out their Pima careers are guards Alyssa Roche and Ashleigh Scott and forwards Mya Perrow-Donovan and Kellie Miller.
By STEVE CHOICE
Pima Community College is looking for another men’s basketball coach after releasing Gabriel Van Guse on March 8.
Van Guse’s two-year mark at Pima was 10-49, including a 4-25 record in 2011-12. The past season began promisingly, as Pima got off to a 6-6 start. However, the Aztecs dropped 18 straight to close out a 6-24 campaign.
“I think coach Van Guse did a lot of good things, and the kids had some quality experiences, but it just comes down to finding someone who’s the right fit for the job,” Athletics Director Edgar Soto said. “I just want to make sure the kids are having a good experience.”
PCC has had difficulty establishing stability in the position. The school’s next hire will be the fifth person to occupy the post since 2008.
Despite the lack of continuity and the team’s recent troubles on the floor, Soto was quick to point out the program’s selling points.
“We have a very successful athletics program overall,” he said. “I think that’s going to help us draw some really good candidates. And our events and support staffs are second to none.
“We also have one of the best basketball facilities in the conference.”
Soto said he hoped a new coach could be hired before the Board of Governors meet on April 10, but that the school would proceed carefully, first and foremost.
“It’d be ideal to have someone hired by April, but we just have to see how it evolves,” he said. “We’re going to follow all procedures and policies in place. We’re not going to rush it for the sake of rushing it.”
Soto didn’t name specific candidates being considered, but said the next coach could come from either the high school or college ranks.
“I want someone who has some experience, and who’s going to help our kids have a great experience while they’re here,” he said. “I want someone who can help get the players to the next level, both in sports and academics.
“They’ve got to have a proven track record of being able to do that.”
For the time being, head women’s basketball coach Todd Holthaus is standing in as the team’s leader.
“He’s kind of taking care of the team right now, taking care of anything they need,” Soto said. “And of course my door is always open.”
The freshmen currently on the team will have a decision to make about returning next season.
“We’ll leave it up to them whether they want to stay or go,” Soto said. “I think we’ll know more once we get a coach in place.”
By STEVE CHOICE
Things were looking pretty good for the Pima Community College men’s basketball team on Dec. 5. The squad had just come off a 93-75 victory over Chandler-Gilbert Community College to even its record at 6-6, and had been very competitive in its six losses.
Then the rest of the season happened.
The Aztecs (6-24, 1-21) fell 99-59 in their season finale at Cochise College on Feb. 23, marking the team’s 18th consecutive defeat.
Freshman guard Lawrence Pierce led Pima with 20 points. Freshmen guards Terrance Carroll and Mike Scroggins contributed 12 and 11, respectively.
PCC almost broke its losing streak at home on Feb. 19 against Tohono O’odham Community College.
Instead, the Aztecs had their hearts broken in a 71-70 loss. The Jegos put in the final bucket with 12 seconds left, and PCC turned the ball over on its final possession.
Carroll was unstoppable all night, dropping 37 points on the visitors. The sharpshooter drained 10 of 14 from beyond the arc.
Freshman guard Joseph Monreal chipped in 12 points for Pima.
Freshman center Stephen Hadley felt finishing the year with an all-freshman lineup played a role in the Aztecs’ tailspin.
“I think it’s the fact that we’re young,” he said. “We went through a lot of adversity.
“I hope next year we’ll have some growth and get back at it.”
Pierce was also looking ahead.
“As far as next year goes, we’ll just have to go back to the drawing board,” Pierce said.
Despite their difficulties, Hadley said the players formed a strong bond over the course of the year.
“I think we had good team unity because a lot of the players are from winning programs,” he said. “They know how to be good teammates.”
Pierce echoed his teammate’s thoughts.
“I really appreciated the guys I played with this year,” the 6-foot-4 Phoenix native said. “It was a great group of guys I was playing with today.”
Pierce averaged 15.3 points per contest to lead the team, barely surpassing Carroll’s 15.2.
After the Cochise game, Pierce sang his fellow southpaw’s praises.
“Terrance Carroll is the best lefty shooter I’ve seen in my life, and I’m a lefty,” he said. “I told him, ‘After the season, you gotta give me some tips.’”
Pierce was named to the NJCAA Division II All-Region second team on Feb. 25.
PCC may want to go back to December to find its future. If Pima can put the same team it had then back on the floor next season, it’s likely that better days are ahead for the Aztecs.
By STEVE CHOICE
The perennial hard-luck Chicago Cubs are always thinking about “next year.”
After losing its 18th straight contest on Feb. 22, the Pima Community College men’s basketball team may be able to relate to that sentiment.
The Aztecs (6-24, 1-21 ACCAC) closed out their season with a 99-59 defeat at Cochise College.
Freshman guard Lawrence Pierce finished off a strong campaign with 20 points. Freshmen guards Terrance Carroll and Mike Scroggins contributed 12 and 11, respectively.
“We just have to go back to the lab,” Pierce said of the tough season. “I feel like we have a nice group of guys, and maybe some more will come.
“I appreciate the guys I’ve played with this year. As far as next year goes, we’ll just have to go back to the drawing board.”
Pima dropped a heartbreaking 71-70 contest to Tohono O’odham Community College on Feb. 19.
Though it was played at the West Campus gym, it may have felt like a road game for Pima. Tohono’s fans accounted for the majority of the spectators, and the atmosphere was raucous.
Carroll rose to the occasion, dropping 37 points on the Jegos in the loss. The Tennessee native was fearless with the ball all night, going 10 for 14 from 3-point range.
Freshman guard Joseph Monreal contributed 12 points for PCC.
The nail-biter came on the heels of Pima’s most lopsided loss of the year, an 80-32 road defeat to Mesa Community College on Feb. 16.
Despite the losing jag, the Aztecs are looking ahead to better times.
“After dropping this many in a row, we’re playing for pride and preparing for next season,” Carroll said after an 89-59 home defeat to South Mountain Community College on Feb. 13.
“We’ve just gotta keep putting out maximum effort and hope we break this streak.”
Carroll led PCC with 18 points and seven rebounds against South Mountain. He went 3 for 6 from 3-point range.
Scroggins had 13 points, while Pierce contributed 11.
Freshman Kevin Burton chipped in 10 points, and went 2 for 5 from distance.
“It’s been tough,” Monreal said of the winless stretch. “We just have to keep fighting.”
One thing handicapping Pima is a short bench.
“We’re only going about eight or nine deep right now, so that’s making it a little tougher near the end of games,” Monreal said. “The other teams are fresher at the finish.”
PCC’s second-half troubles were evident on Feb. 9 at Scottsdale Community College.
Pima trailed just 27-21 at the break, but eventually fell 71-51.
The Aztecs didn’t have any better luck on the road against Phoenix College on Feb.6, dropping an 88-50 contest.
Scroggins had 14 points, eight assists and five boards against the Bears.
By STEVE CHOICE
The Pima Community College women’s basketball team is playing some its best basketball of the year when it counts most, with the postseason fast approaching.
The Aztecs (16-14, 12-9 ACCAC) have won seven of their last 10, and have a first-round playoff game on March 5 at home against South Mountain Community College.
“We’re starting to get it rolling at the right time of the year,” head coach Todd Holthaus said.
The streaking squad had a tough night in Douglas on Feb. 22, as Cochise College had a putback with 1.4 seconds to go to pull out a dramatic 71-70 victory.
Perhaps even more damaging for PCC is the potential loss of sophomore guard Ashleigh Scott for the upcoming matchup with South Mountain.
Scott went down hard in a second-half collision with an Apaches player, and had to be carried off the court. She was walking after the game, and Holthaus called her status for the next game uncertain.
Adding to the Aztecs’ health woes is sophomore guard Alyssa Roche’s knee sprain, which also has her as questionable against South Mountain. Roche sustained the injury at home on Feb. 19 against Tohono O’odham Community College, and didn’t play against Cochise.
“I’m not sure about Ashleigh’s ankle; we’ll have to see,” Holthaus said. “Roche’s knee is a little more iffy. We’ll just have to see where we are with each of them.”
Despite the injuries, Holthaus was feeling confident heading into the postseason.
“We’re playing great. We’ve been playing really well since January,” he said. “There’s a lot to be optimistic about.”
Pima dumped Tohono O’odham 103-49 in a late-season contest.
Freshman guard Felicia Foster had a game-high 18 points, and shot 6 for 10 from beyond the arc.
Sophomore center A’jha Edwards posted her 18th double-double of the year, scoring 14 points and snaring 14 rebounds. Edwards was named NJCAA Division II Player of the Week on Feb. 20, and also took ACCAC Division II Player of the Year honors on Feb. 23.
Edwards averaged 14.0 points ans 13.2 boards for the season. She was second in NJCAA field-goal percentage (60.5) and eighth in rebounding.
Freshman forward Raja Moreno contributed 13 points and 11 boards against Tohono, while sophomore Mya Perrow-Donovan had 10 and 12, respectively.
Sophomore D.J. Davis and freshman Rachel Williams added 13 points, and Scott chipped in 10.
Six sophomores were honored in a brief ceremony after the game, including Edwards, Davis, Perrow-Donovan, Scott, Roche and Kellie Miller.
Miller had to sit out the season while recovering from surgery to repair torn ligaments in her knee. She will play at the University of Montana Western next year.
On Feb. 16, Pima took No. 4 Mesa Community College to double overtime, falling 86-81 on the road.
PCC fell behind by 17 in the first half, but charged back to tie it at 67 at the end of regulation. Mesa outscored Pima 13-8 in the second OT to get the win.
Edwards went for 22 points and 23 rebounds.
Davis had 17 points, while Williams added 10. Scott also contributed seven steals.
On Feb. 13, Pima shut down South Mountain 77-64 at home, marking their fourth consecutive win.
The Aztecs, decked out in pink socks, headbands and T-shirts in support of breast cancer awareness, turned a one-point halftime advantage into the convincing victory with a combination of strong play down low and deadly accuracy from beyond the arc.
Edwards scored 20 points and pulled down 19 boards, while Roche hit three treys on the night, finishing with 15 points.
Moreno contributed nine points and eight rebounds, and freshman Shayna Porter also scored nine.
“We were kind of looking at this as preparation for the playoffs,” Moreno said of the winning streak after the game. “We made these last few games into our own little tournament, and we won them, so I’m excited.”
Moreno pointed to the team’s conditioning as one factor in its late-season surge.
“We see a lot of other teams getting fatigued, and we’re still going,” she said.
Williams echoed her teammate’s thought.
“I think we’re in better condition now than we were when we were doing conditioning before the season,” she said. “We still run in practice like it’s day one, so we’re ready.
“We’re all feeling healthy and strong.”
Pima’s strength was too much for Scottsdale Community College in a 70-62 road victory on Feb. 9.
Scott had a team-high 15 points for PCC, while Moreno chipped in 11 and seven boards.
Pima picked Scottsdale’s pockets all day long, ringing up 21 steals.
On Feb. 6, the Aztecs notched an 84-75 road victory against Phoenix College.
Edwards led PCC with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Foster went 4 for 7 from 3-pont range to finish with 15 points.
March 5: South Mountain Community College, West Campus, 7:30 p.m.
By STEVE CHOICE
Pima (6-18, 1-15 ACCAC) dropped a 46-41 decision at home against Chandler-Gilbert Community College on Feb. 2. It marked the squad’s 12th straight defeat, going back to December.
Freshman guard Lawrence Pierce led PCC with 11 points and eight rebounds in the loss. Freshman forward Orlando Lopez added eight points and six boards.
On Jan. 30, Pima hit the road to face Central Arizona College.
The Division I Vaqueros featured a lineup of players from spots on the map like Lithuania and Boston, with only three players being from Arizona.
Central’s recruiting advantage played itself out in the game, as the Vaqueros posted a 92-72 victory.
“Central’s a very good team,” freshman guard Kevin Burton said. “Our game plan was pretty much to stop No. 5 (Vaqueros guard Deandre Mathieu) and not try to run to their tempo. We just played to their tempo too much.”
The Aztecs did succeed in shutting down Mathieu, who only had seven points. However, three Vaqueros scored in double figures, including DesJuan Newton, who dropped in 28.
Pierce had a team-high 23 for PCC, while freshman guard Terrance Carroll added 16 points and seven rebounds.
Burton contributed 12 points, and freshman guard Joseph Monreal chipped in 10.
Lopez talked about the team’s offensive rhythm against Central.
“We had a lot of good teamwork,” the 6-foot-8 Yuma native said. “When T.C. (Carroll) and Lawrence move it around like that, they just get people open all the time.”
Lopez showed off some nice moves of his own, flashed across the lane with his back to the basket to score on a few occasions.
“I’ve always done that move,” he said. “If they let me do it, I always do it as much as I can. It really works for me.”
PCC dropped a heartbreaker against Eastern Arizona College at home on Jan. 26, losing 68-64.
Pima went on a late 12-0 run to cut it to 59-57, but couldn’t overtake the visitors.
Carroll poured in 28 points, hitting 5 of 9 from beyond the arc. Pierce added 24 points and eight rebounds.
Freshman Stephen Hadley contributed five rebounds for PCC.
On Jan. 23, the Aztecs fell 67-58 at Glendale Community College.
Carroll had 20 in the losing effort, while Pierce contributed 15.
Despite the losing skid, Lopez sounded an optimistic note after the Central game.
“We’re gonna keep working, and look to get that ‘W,’” he said. “We’re still shooting for the playoffs.”
Pima was scheduled to play at Phoenix College on Feb. 6. The paper went to press before results were available.
Feb. 9: @ Scottsdale CC, Scottsdale, 4 p.m.
Feb. 13: South Mountain CC, West Campus, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 16: @ Mesa CC, Mesa, 4 p.m.
Feb. 19: Tohono O’odham CC, West Campus, 7:30 p.m
By STEVE CHOICE
The Pima Community College women’s basketball team rebounded from a blowout loss in its previous game to return the favor against Chandler-Gilbert Community College on Feb. 2, downing the Coyotes 85-66 at home.
Sophomore center A’jha Edwards starred for the Aztecs (12-12, 8-7 ACCAC), tallying 20 points and 15 rebounds. It was her 14th double-double of the season.
Sophomore guard D.J. Davis scored 18 for Pima, including four 3-pointers. Sophomore Ashlei Scott chipped in 13, and freshman Mya Perrow-Donovan pulled down 10 boards.
In an emotional ceremony after the game, head coach Todd Holthaus presented sophomore guard Alyssa Roche with the newly created Bruce Fleck Scholarship Award.
Fleck, who died in April, was an assistant coach for 14 years with Holthaus, including stints at Flowing Wells High School and Pima.
“He was so much more than an assistant,” Holthaus said. “He was a mentor, a father figure, my best friend.
“Today was a special day for the women’s basketball program. To honor our friend coach Fleck with a victory was icing on the cake.”
On Jan. 30, PCC traveled to Coolidge to take on Central Arizona College. The fifth-ranked Vaqueras dropped 55 on the Aztecs in the first half, en route to a 93-66 win.
“It was a rough game, but we had to look at it as an opportunity to make ourselves better,” Perrow-Donovan said after the game. “It was an opportunity to play how we need to so we can get further on the path we want, which is heading toward nationals.”
Central’s superior size was tough for Pima to contend with.
“I think they’re the biggest team we’ve gone up against all year,” freshman guard Shayna Porter said. “I was down in the middle of some tall trees there.”
Davis had a team-high 13 points for PCC. Edwards notched 10 points and 14 rebounds, along with five steals and a pair of blocks.
The Aztecs rode a strong second half to an 88-80 home victory over Eastern Arizona College on Jan. 26.
Pima broke open a 46-46 contest with a 9-0 run midway through the second half, and never looked back.
Five Aztecs scored in double figures, including Edwards, Roche, Porter, Scott and freshman guard Felicia Foster.
PCC also used a decisive second half to defeat Glendale Community College on Jan. 23, winning 76-67.
Edwards led Pima with 20 points in the road victory.
Davis was named ACCAC Division II Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 28-Feb. 3. She averaged 15.5 points, two rebounds, three assists and two steals per game in the two contests played in that time period.
PCC was scheduled to play at Phoenix College on Feb. 6. The paper went to press before results were available.
Feb. 9: @ Scottsdale CC, Scottsdale, 6 p.m.
Feb. 13: South Mountain CC, West Campus, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 16: @ Mesa CC, Mesa, 2 p.m.
Feb. 19: Tohono O’odham CC, West Campus, 5:30 p.m.
By STEVE CHOICE
The Pima Community College men’s basketball team (6-14, 1-11 ACCAC) may be happy that classes are back in session.
After going a healthy 6-7 in the first semester, Pima began the winter break. The wins went on hiatus, too, and they’re still playing hooky.
The Aztecs are currently mired in a seven-game winless stretch, dating to Dec. 29.
“We just gotta take it one game at a time,” freshman guard Terrance Carroll said. “We know what we need to do; now we just need keep at it and execute.”
Pima’s without a few players who started the season, which has affected the team’s depth and style of play.
“We started the year as an up-and-down team, but we’ve transferred into a team that plays more of a slow-down style now,” freshman point guard Mike Scroggins said. “It’s a new style, but we can get used to it.
“I know we can do it, but it’s going to take a little time. We’re picking it up more and more.”
Something else Pima almost picked up was a hard-fought victory on Jan. 19, as Arizona Western College came to town. The Aztecs battled back from a 16-point second-half deficit to cut it to 47-40 with 2:18 to go, ultimately falling 52-44.
“Yeah, we kept comin’ at them,” Carroll said. “We got close. Now we just gotta get over the hump.”
Freshman guard Lawrence Pierce led all scorers with 18 points for PCC, also grabbing seven rebounds.
Carroll contributed nine points, and freshman guard Kevin Burton chipped in seven. Scroggins had six points and six boards.
Pima had a tougher time with Cochise College on Jan. 16. The Apaches bolted to a 49-17 halftime lead and cruised to a 99-56 win.
Carroll led Pima with 18 points, while Pierce finished with 14 and seven boards.
Burton and freshman guard Joseph Monreal each added eight points for PCC.
On Jan. 12, Pima took on Tohono O’odham Community College in Sells, falling 72-60.
Pierce poured in 27 points in the loss.
The Western game began the back half of the Aztecs’ conference slate, as they’ll now look to reverse some of their earlier fortunes.
“We played a lot of these teams real close,” Scroggins said. “We’ve just gotta get it done the second time around.”
Pima was scheduled to play at Glendale Community College on Jan. 23. The paper went to press before results were available.
By STEVE CHOICE
The holiday season was kind to the Pima Community College women’s basketball team, as it found win after win under its tree.
The Aztecs (9-11, 5-6 ACCAC) went a spotless 6-0 from Dec. 5 to Jan. 2 to turn around a season that started slowly.
“It felt good to go on that hot streak,” freshman guard Felicia Foster said.
Pima has found returning to the office in January a little rougher, going 1-4 in its last four contests.
The Aztecs dropped a heartbreaker at home on Jan. 19, falling 63-60 to Arizona Western College in overtime.
A free throw by sophomore D.J. Davis put PCC on top 51-48 in regulation, but Western drove the length of the floor and nailed a game-tying 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds to go.
Davis also figured prominently in the extra frame. The 5-foot-4 inch guard hit a three with 45.4 seconds remaining to put Pima up 60-58, and made several nice assists to her teammates.
Despite her efforts, a controversial call with 15.3 seconds to go helped seal Pima’s fate.
With the score knotted at 60, a Western player got a steal on Pima’s end, but was struggling to gain her footing as she came away with the ball.
Judging by the crowd’s reaction, the referees were the only three people in the gym who didn’t see her take a bunny hop on her pivot foot, and it wasn’t called.
The Matadors seized on the confusion to drive the length of the floor and put in the winning shot. They added a free throw for the final margin.
“If we had put them away earlier, it wouldn’t have come down to anything like that,” Davis said. “We have to take care of business, not worry about the refs.”
Davis led Pima with a game-high 19 points, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range.
Sophomore center A’jha Edwards added 14 points, eight rebounds and three rejections.
It was the third straight home loss for Pima.
Cochise College put up a 40-25 second half on Jan. 16 to down PCC 72-63. The Aztecs also dropped a 56-53 decision on Jan. 9 to No. 5 Mesa Community College.
“It’s tough to lose these close ones, but our team is strong,” Foster said. “We gotta keep battling and just learn how to close these tight games out.”
Does Foster see another hot streak in the near future?
“Oh yeah, we’ve got another run in us. I know we’ll make the playoffs,” she said. “Coach believes in us. We’re gonna get there.”
Pima was scheduled to play at Glendale Community College on Jan. 23. The paper went to press before results were available.
By STEVE CHOICE
Pima Community College sophomore basketball player A’jha Edwards has been a few places. She also has plenty of ideas about where she’s heading.
Among other aspirations, the 6-foot-5 Aztecs center would like to fly high with the U.S. Air Force after she graduates from school.
“I really like the idea of the Air Force,” the Sierra Vista native said. “More than the Army. When I hear gunshots and stuff, I panic.
“I couldn’t picture myself hurting somebody else. I think the Air Force would be less like combat and stuff. My boyfriend is stationed at Davis-Monthan, so he tells me a lot about the life.”
As a “military brat,” Edwards has seen her share of bases around the world.
She was born in Wurzburg, Germany, where her father was stationed with the Army. Like many folks living in Bavaria, she quickly picked up the national sport.
“I played soccer over there,” she said. “Everybody did. I didn’t even know what basketball was until I was nine and I got over here.”
By age 11, she had traded in her soccer cleats for a pair of high-tops, and she began doing her running on the hardcourt instead of the pitch.
“My soccer days are behind me,” she said with a laugh. “That was when I had too much energy. I still have to run, but now it’s more like for fast breaks.”
She’s also been running up her stats this year, averaging 13.5 points per game for PCC, to go along with 12 rebounds per contest.
Edwards hopes to parlay her on-court prowess into a reunion with an old friend from her school days.
“When I was in middle school, I played with a girl named Keyondra White,” she said. “She plays at Adams St. (Colo.), and I wanna go there with her, hopefully.”
Edwards may want to check into the school’s music department while she’s at it.
“I sing, and I’m also learning piano right now,” the music major said. “I used to sing in the church choir, and I still love singing. I sing mostly by myself now.
“I do gospel, R&B, pretty much whatever. My favorite music to listen to is classical, though.”
Her love of Bach and company is also good news for her GPA.
“When I’m doing homework, I listen to that,” she said. “If I listen to something else, I’ll be too distracted.
“It’s so much easier to read my homework if there are no lyrics and stuff.”
Not only is she learning a lot from her textbooks at Pima, but she’s getting some good instruction from the basketball coaches as well.
“I didn’t know what post moves were in high school,” she said. “I didn’t know what anything was. I learned it all here.”
For a young woman who’s picked up a few things along the way, learning basketball moves is just one more experience among many to be had in the world.
By STEVE CHOICE
The Pima Community College women’s basketball team came charging back against Central Arizona College at home on Dec.1, but fell 91-78 to the Vaqueras.
The Aztecs (2-7, 1-3 ACCAC) matched Central’s second-half scoring output after trailing by 13 at halftime, and cut a 25-point deficit to 10 late in the game.
Head coach Todd Holthaus was pleased with the fight his team displayed.
“To come out today against the No. 10 team in the country and not give up, and just battle, and play them even in the second half – I was very proud of them,” he said.
Sophomore guard D.J. Davis paced the squad with 17 points, including 4 of 4 shooting from 3-point range.
Freshman guard Felicia Foster had 15 points, and sophomore Ashlei Scott contributed 13.
“It felt good coming back in the second half, because it shows we’re a scrappy team,” Scott said. “We’re not gonna give up, regardless of what the score is. We’ll keep fighting to the end.”
Pointing to the team’s furious comeback, freshman forward Akilai Moyd felt it could bode well for the remainder of the season.
“We just need to do what we did in the last four minutes in every game, and we’ll be good,” she said.
Pima dropped a 74-64 decision at Eastern Arizona College on Nov. 28. The Aztecs again made a late charge, and again matched their opponent’s second-half scoring total.
PCC cut the Eastern lead to nine with 2:31 to play, but could get no closer.
Sophomore center A’jha Edwards poured in a team-high 27 points and grabbed 16 rebounds.
Scott tallied 10, while freshman forward Raja Moreno added eight points and nine boards.
On Nov. 20, PCC traveled to Yuma to take on Arizona Western College. The Matadors proved to be rude hosts, downing Pima 74-50.
Foster led the way with 12 points, while Moreno and Davis had 11 and 10, respectively.
Holthaus said the squad’s early-season schedule has been unique in his time at the school.
“This is the most ambitious nine-game stretch we’ve ever had since I’ve been here,” he said after the Central game.
Holthaus wasn’t getting down about the team’s rough patch, though, and felt ready for upcoming games against Division II opponents.
“We’re figuring things out,” he said. “That second half today is momentum for this coming week. Hopefully all the wars we’ve been through will take us where we need to be with the DII schools we’re about to play.”
Scott echoed her coach’s thoughts.
“We’ve had a really tough schedule, but we’re not concerned about our record right now,” she said. “We know when it comes conference time, we’ll be ready.”
Pima was scheduled to play at Chandler-Gilbert Community College on Dec. 5. The paper went to press before results were available.
Dec. 8: Phoenix College, West Campus, 2 p.m.
Dec. 27: Sait College (Calgary, Canada), West Campus, 6 p.m.
Dec. 28: College of Southern Idaho, West Campus, 5 p.m.
Dec. 29: Parkland College (Illinois), West Campus, 5 p.m.
By STEVE CHOICE
Memphis is known for blues, barbecue and Beale Street. Another “b” may need to be added to that list soon – ballers.
The Pima Community College men’s basketball team features three players from the Tennessee city this season, as well as first-year assistant coach Mike Poindexter.
Freshmen Terrance Carroll, Ravontae Kight and Rodriguez Tucker all followed Poindexter to the Old Pueblo, and the new-look Aztecs have benefited from the toughness they brought with them.
“The style of play’s kind of different down South, where we’re from,” Kight said. “It’s real aggressive. We’re more ‘attack.’
“We foul a lot more, I guess you could say.”
Poindexter echoed his player’s thoughts, saying he was eager to see how the harder brand of hoops played in Arizona.
“If we can kind of bring a different element of play to our conference, that could be good,” he said.
Using their nicknames, Poindexter recalled his introduction to the trio.
“They’re all kinda connected from back home a little bit,” he said. “T.C. played for my club team, the Memphis Blazers. I’ve been knowin’ him since he was, I think, a sophomore in high school.
“Tae and Rod, they played for another club team, and I knew their coach.”
The three also used to go head-to-head against each other while playing for their respective high schools, and had good scouting reports on their future teammates.
“I knew T.C. was a shooter,” said Tucker, who plays guard for the Aztecs. “He was always playing point. He just wanted to shoot in somebody’s face.”
Carroll smiled at Tucker’s description, agreeing with a nod and a laugh.
“That’s about it, man,” he said. “I remember y’all from back home, too. With Tae, I knew he was gonna be Tae.
“He was defensive-minded, always protecting the rock. And Rod, he was an inside-outside beast. He could beat you inside, and he could beat you outside.”
The three decided to team up and beat on ACCAC opponents this year, and it’s paid some early dividends.
Carroll recently dropped 36 on Central Arizona College in a tough overtime loss, and Tucker and Kight have both posted stellar outings, too.
“We’re tryin’ to get that title, you know,” Kight said. “We’re tryin’ to get to where we want to be, but we’re not there yet.”
One place they’ll definitely be later this month is back in the Volunteer State, enjoying a well-deserved break and getting back to something they’ve all missed.
“I miss that home cookin’, that Southern cookin’,” Kight said with a laugh. “I like the food here a lot, but you can’t beat the Southern.”
Tucker had similar plans for his vacation.
“I’ll be eating all day on Christmas, man,” he said. “I don’t get to eat like that here.”
Though they plan to put away some culinary favorites while back home, Carroll said they’ll be spending even more time burning off calories.
“I’m pretty sure I’ll be seeing their faces in one of the gyms,” he said. “That’s where we plan to be.”
Carroll acknowledged the move to a new city and region was difficult in the beginning, but said it’s been more than worth the journey.
“It’s been a transition, yeah, but basketball is the reason we’re here. We’re looking at it all as a real positive.”
By STEVE CHOICE
The Pima Community College women’s basketball team opened conference play with a 66-56 home win over Glendale Community College on Nov. 17.
With the win, the Aztecs stand at 2-4 on the young season.
Sophomore center A’jha Edwards had a busy day for PCC, scoring 27 points and clearing 19 boards off the glass. Freshman guard Felicia Foster chipped in 11.
Glendale held a 31-30 halftime lead, but Pima used a 23-8 run coming out of the locker room to put it away.
“I’m proud of the girls’ effort and composure in the second half,” head coach Todd Holthaus said. “The main thing is that it’s a home conference win.”
The team ended a three-game slide with the victory. Freshman guard Rachel Williams said the triumph came at a good time.
“It was a big relief,” she said. “It’s been awhile since we got a win, even though we knew in those losses that we got better every game.
“This game we just came out and did our thing.”
Pima had a rough time at the Salt Lake Community College Tournament on Nov. 8-10, going 0-3 in the Beehive State.
The Aztecs fell to Utah State University-College of Eastern Utah 62-55 on the tourney’s final day.
Sophomore guard Ashlei Scott paced the Aztecs with 11 points, while freshman forward Raja Moreno finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Host Salt Lake defeated Pima 72-55 the previous day.
Scott and sophomore guard D.J. Davis each had 11 points, while Edwards snared 13 boards.
On the tournament’s first day, PCC fell to Snow College (Utah) by a 65-60 score.
Foster had 18 points, including four 3-pointers. Edwards finished with 13 points and 17 rebounds, while Davis scored 12.
Holthaus saw the silver lining in the winless road trip.
“It was a tough weekend against some very good D-1 jucos,” he said. “Even though the scores didn’t reflect the results we wanted, we got better.”
Sophomore guard Alyssa Roche was content to put the Utah trip in the rearview mirror.
“We struggled a little bit up there playing against some bigger teams, but it feels good to get a win today,” she said after the Glendale contest. “We’re just looking ahead to our next game now.”
PCC was scheduled to face Arizona Western College in Yuma on Nov. 20. The paper went to press before game results were available.
The Aztecs return to action on Nov. 28, when they take on Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher.
Nov. 28: @ Eastern Arizona College, Thatcher, 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 1: Central Arizona College, West Campus, 2 p.m.
Dec. 5: @ Chandler-Gilbert CC, Chandler, 5:30 p.m.
By STEVE CHOICE
The Pima Community College men’s basketball team is off and running this season, in more ways than one.
The Aztecs have jumped out to an early 4-2 mark, already equaling last year’s win total.
If their Nov. 17 home game against Glendale Community College was any indication, they also plan to run their opponents ragged.
Pima fell 101-93 in a nonstop, run-and-gun game in which nearly every Aztec played significant minutes. The score went back and forth until the last minute of play, when Glendale finally put it away.
“Man, it was just an up-and-down game,” freshman guard Terrence Carroll said. “We should’ve got more stops. We gave up too many points.”
Freshman guard Lawrence Pierce poured in 21 points to lead a balanced Pima attack in the loss.
Four other freshmen also scored in double figures for PCC, including Rodriguez Tucker with 18, DeVante Williams with 13, and Marcus Mears and Carroll with 12 apiece.
Despite the loss, Carroll was feeling good about the identity the team has established.
“We always keep it up-tempo,” Carroll said. “That’s our style of play. We get the ball out quick, and try not to let other teams set up their defense.”
“We’re feeling good. I think we can hang with anybody in the conference.”
On Nov. 14, Pima came from behind to defeat Chicano Basketball League squad Tierra del Sol 90-83 at West Campus. The game counted as a regular-season contest.
Pierce again led the squad with 21 points, while Mears had 14. Williams contributed 13, and Tucker and Carroll also hit double figures.
Freshman Mike Jones patrolled the paint, registering four blocks in the win.
Pima’s first loss of the year came on Nov. 10, as Odessa College (Texas) downed the Aztecs 89-65 on the second day of the Pima Tournament.
Carroll led PCC with 12, while Tucker added 11.
PCC opened the tourney the day before with a 90-83 victory over New Mexico Military Institute.
The Broncos cut an 18-point Aztecs lead to four with 2:31 remaining, but got no closer.
Carroll had a game-high 18 points, and hit 7 of 8 from the free-throw line down the stretch to help seal the win.
Joining him in double figures were Pierce, Williams and Mears.
Pierce said the team is meshing well.
“We’ve got a lot of good chemistry,” he said. “Everybody gets along. We’re all really close, from the first man to the 12th man.”
The 6-foot-4 guard was already looking ahead to Pima’s next showdown, an away game at Arizona Western College on Nov. 20.
“We feel like we can go in there and win it,” he said. “We just gotta keep it up in practice and go in there with a positive head.”
The paper went to press before game results were available.
Nov. 23: Westwind Prep, West Campus, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 24: Team Sweeney, West Campus, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 1: Central Arizona College, West Campus, 4 p.m.
Dec. 5: @ Chandler-Gilbert CC, Chandler, 7:30 p.m.