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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Playoffs start March 4 at West Campus

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Playoffs start March 4 at West Campus


The Pima Community College women’s basketball team (17-13, 14-8 in ACCAC) has sealed the No.1 seed in the Region I, Division II tournament.

The Aztecs pulled out an exciting win Feb. 24 against Scottsdale Community College, 66-62, in the final regular-season game.

With under a minute left in the game, the score was tied 62-62. Freshman Kristin Baldwin then scored a jump shot, putting Pima up 64-62 with 39.6 second left on the clock. Scottsdale tried to tie the game, but missed its shot.

Pima freshman Shalise Fernander was fouled as she came down with the defensive rebound. Fernander sealed the game with two clutch free-throws, putting the Aztecs up 64-62 with 21.1 seconds remaining.

“I’m really proud of this group and happy for our sophomores,” Pima head coach Todd Holthaus said in a press release.

“We have overcome many adversities and to be standing as the No. 1 seed is a testament to what this team is made of,” he added. “At this point, the post-season is gravy. The second season is always the most fun.”

Region I, Division II tournament play will begin Wednesday, March 4, at the West Campus gym. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m.

The Aztecs will be up against No.4 Phoenix College. In the last match-up, Pima won 80-78 in double-overtime.

Sophomore Melody McLaughlin expressed confidence before the Feb. 24 game.

“We, as a team, feel well prepared and excited knowing if we win tomorrow it gives us the first seed for playoffs,” she said. “I’m excited, but emotional at the same time because this year has flown by and I don’t want it to end.”

PCC entered the Phoenix game ranked No. 20 in the nation.

On Feb. 21, the Aztecs easily took down South Mountain Community College in Phoenix by more than tripling their opponent’s score, 100-31.

Fernander led the Aztecs with 26 points while freshman Heather Rogers had 25 points of her own.

At the time, Mesa Community College held a share of the No. 1 seed with Pima. The tie-breaker went to the Aztecs for sweeping Mesa during the regular season.

Pima came home with a loss Feb. 18, falling 82-68 to Central Arizona College in Coolidge. PCC was swept in the regular-season series after also losing to Central last month, 73-62.

The Aztecs had a rough start, trailing 41-28 at the half. They came back strong in the second, only being outscored 41-40.

On Feb. 14, Pima defeated Arizona Western College 77-53 at the West Campus gym.

Pima nearly doubled Western’s score in the second half, 42-25, and scored 30 points on three-pointers alone throughout the game.

Four Aztec players scored in double digits. Baldwin had a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds.

In Mesa on Feb. 11, Pima finished another thrilling game against Mesa Community College 55-54.

In their previous meeting, a last-second buzzer beater secured the final score of 72-70 for Pima. This time around, a defensive play finished the game.

Down by one, Mesa attempted a buzzer shot in the last second, only to be denied when Baldwin swatted it away.

Freshman Heather Rogers drives down the court.  (Caleb Foster/Aztec Press)

Freshman Heather Rogers drives down the court. (Caleb Foster/Aztec Press)

Streak ends with nail-biting overtime loss

Streak ends with nail-biting overtime loss


The Spring semester has proven to be an exciting one so far as the Aztecs look to close out their season strong.

The Pima Community College women’s basketball team (13-12, 10-7 in ACCAC) lost in dramatic fashion to Cochise College in overtime 72-71 Feb. 7.

The Aztecs came out strong in the first half with explosive defense holding Cochise to just 22% shooting.

Coming into the second half leading 30-18 Pima’s momentum shifted as Cochise slowly began to take control of the game.

Under pressure Freshman, Gabby Banales made a pair of free throws with 1:14 left putting the Aztecs ahead 63-61. Cochise then forced the overtime tying the game up 63-63.In the extra period neither team pulled away going basket for basket until Cochise hit a three-pointer with 2.1 seconds left taking the lead 72-71. Freshman Samirah Miller went for a last second half court shot but fell short.

Melody McLaughlin (Sophomore) and Kristin Baldwin (Freshman) each finished with a double-double. McLaughlin with 26 points and 10 rebounds and Baldwin with 10 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks. Banales and Freshman Shalise Fernander each had 11 points of their own.

On Feb.4 Pima’s four game winning streak came to an end in a loss to No. 9 ranked team in Division I, Eastern Arizona College in Coolidge, 66-54.

Banales hit a pair of important three-pointers gaining a lead in the second half but with around five minutes left the Aztecs couldn’t find a way to score, allowing Eastern to out score the Aztecs 21-8 to end the game.

Banales had the team’s highest score with 14 points.

The Aztecs came home with a win Jan. 31, defeating Glendale Community College 49-48.

It was the Aztecs’ fourth straight win and an extra sweet victory after their loss in overtime to Glendale back in December.

Pima came into the second half down 30-26. Midway through the second-half the Aztec’s went on a 13-0 run, out-scoring Glendale 23-18 to finish the game. Banales led the Aztecs with a team-high 13 points.

At home on Jan. 28, PCC easily took down Tohono O’Odham Community College, 77-44.

Leading 45-16 at the half, Pima gave up only 16 points in the second half. Sophomore Jayla Brown ended strong with a three-point-play with 48.4 seconds left.

Five Aztecs scored double-digits, and two recorded double-doubles. NJCAA National Player of the Week Melody McLaughlin had 12 points and 14 rebounds, and Alexa Arndt (Sophomore) had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Banales scored a game-high 18 points while Fernander and Brown each scored 12 points.

Freshman Shalise Fernander steps up to the line for the Aztecs after a foul.

Freshman Shalise Fernander steps up to the line for the Aztecs after a foul.

Gershman drops 45 to end losing streak

Gershman drops 45 to end losing streak


The Pima Community College men’s basketball team (17-8, 9-8 in ACCAC conference) snapped their four game losing streak behind a huge performance from Sophomore Murphy Gershman.

Gershman was named ACCAC player of the week for the third time adding to his resume as the top player for the Aztecs this season.

Pima will rely on him to lead them as they wrap up their last few games of the regular season which ends later this month.

In their game against Eastern Arizona College Gershman set the season record for both points and rebounds with 45 and 22, respectively.

The Aztecs swept Cochise College this season with their dominant 91-68 victory on Feb. 7. The win marked their second in a row after breaking a four-game losing strike.

Sophomore Bryan Cervantes racked up a game high 27 points in the victory shooting 5 for 9 from beyond the arc.Gershman played a dominant game again, posting a 21 point 16 rebound double-double.

Sophomore Matt O’Boyle, who was kept scoreless in the first half finished with 14 points in the second half. He went 4 for 8 in the 3-point range helping the Aztecs stretch their lead.

Gershman lead the Aztecs to a 96-85 victory over Eastern Arizona on Feb. 4.

Not only was it a crucial win, sweeping Eastern Arizona and getting back on track with their season, but the Aztecs had a standout performance by Gershman who dropped 45 points and grabbed 22 rebounds. Gershman was dominant and dynamic on the court hitting three 3-pointers and converting on three 3-point plays in the victory.

The Aztecs led 44-39 at half and battled through the second half with crucial performances by freshman Dorian Paige with 11 points and sophomore Andres Marquez with 10. Two well timed runs helped secure the victory. Sophomore Esteban Lopez finished with eight points and eight rebounds on the night.

The Aztecs added a loss to their season as they fell 71-64 on the road against Glendale Community College on Jan. 31.

Pima trailed by two at halftime but was unable to rally in the second half to win the game. The Aztecs split their games with Glendale, winning their first meeting of the season in December.

Gershman finished with a 22-point, 12-rebound double-double on the night. Cervantes added nine points and five rebounds.

The Aztecs dropped their home game on Jan. 28 against Tohono O’Odham 77-92. The game, stocked full of emotions and attitudes, was hard fought. In the end the Aztecs were unable to stop Tohono O’Odham from beyond three-point range, giving up 15 three-pointers.

The Aztecs trailed 49-39 at halftime and managed to get the game within five points part way through the second half but ultimately came up short.

O’Boyle struggled with his shooting, scoring 11, but had opportunities throughout the second half.

Gershman finished with a game-high 26 points, seven rebounds and three steals. He shot well from the line, going 13-15 on the night.

Cervantes dropped 21 points, with five coming from beyond the arc.

The Aztecs will host Mesa CC on Feb. 11 after the Aztec Press goes to print.

Pg13-Men's basketball

Freshman Dorian Paige drives through the paint looking to dish the ball out to a teammate in a Jan. 28 game against Tohono O-Odham.


Pima doesn’t take a break over winter

Pima doesn’t take a break over winter


The Pima Community College women’s basketball team (11-10, 8-5 in ACCAC conference) beat Phoenix College 80-78 in a double overtime victory on Jan. 24.

Despite some difficulty scoring throughout the game freshman Gabby Banales ended the game with a third offensive-rebound put back right as the buzzer went off.

Sophomore Melody McLaughlin led the Aztecs in the second overtime, contributing a 6-0 run that gave Pima a 76-74 lead with 2:01 on the clock.

McLaughlin earned NJCAA National Player of the Week honors for her efforts.

Sophomore Jayla Brown scored a team high 22 points, with her clutch three-point shooting.

“A road conference win is always good,” said Pima head coach Todd Holthaus. “I’m extremely proud of this group of ladies. They faced adversity and found a way through it.”

They easily defeated Chandler-Gilbert 89-51 on Jan. 21.

Pima led by 40 points in the second half and ended the game out-scoring Chandler-Gilbert 52-27.

Freshman Shalise Fernander led with 23 points and 7 rebounds.

Although the Aztecs consistently out-scored Chandler-Gilbert, their defense stood out as well, ending the game with 34 defensive rebounds and 15 steals.

The Aztecs lost 66-59 on the road against Scottsdale Community College on Jan. 17.

Pima’s women’s basketball team defeated South Mountain Community College 84-38 on Jan. 14. A 20-0 run put the nail in the coffin early in the second half. Brown and freshman Hayley Pryor had great games off the bench both scoring in the double digits.

The Aztecs lost at home in a close game against Central Arizona College with a final score of 73-62 on Jan. 10. McLaughlin had 14 points and seven rebounds.  Banales finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.

Pima broke their losing streak with a  road win against Arizona Western College 63-58 on Wednesday, Jan. 7. The victory was a good team win as five of Pima’s own scored in the double digits.

Then, at No. 15, Pima lost to No. 16 South Suburban College 56-45 on Dec. 28. Pima struggled throughout the game despite Pima’s freshman Kristin Baldwin who nearly had a triple double finishing with nine points, 19 rebounds and 10 blocks.

On the second day of the Stone Creek Hotel Cougar Holiday Tournament the Aztecs lost a close game against Lake Michigan College 53-46. McLaughlin had a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds.

They closed out the tournament with a third straight loss against No. 2 North Iowa Area Community College 94-63. Pima never cut the lead by more than 17 points. Banales led the Aztecs with 19 points. Baldwin ended the game with a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Pima came up short 87-80 in their first game of the Bruce Fleck Classic tournament against Division I school Casper College on Dec. 16.

They turned things around the following day when they defeated Tucson Sol 80-65.

Finishing the tournament on a high note, the Aztecs closed out the Bruce Fleck Classic beating Arizona Christian University 82-55 on Dec. 18.

After the tournament, Pima’s own sophomore Adrianna Barrientez became the fourth recipient of the Bruce Fleck Scholarship Award, which is given to students who exemplify both athletic and academic excellence.

The Aztecs proceeded to end their losing streak with an upset win over No. 6 ranked Mesa Community College on Dec. 13. In the final seconds Pryor hit a layup with an assist from Banales defeating Mesa 72-70.

Fernander was honored with the ACCAC Division II Player of the Week for the week of Dec. 8-14 having two double-doubles against both Cochise College and Mesa Community College.

The team fell to Cochise College with a final score of 74-47 on Dec. 10.


Jan. 31: @Glendale CC, Glendale, 4 p.m.

Feb. 4: @ Eastern Arizona College, Thatcher, 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 7: Cochise College, West Campus, 2 p.m.

Feb. 11: Mesa CC, West Campus, 5:30 p.m.

Pg14-Women's basketball

Freshman Gaby Banales makes a break for the hoop during a home game against Chandler-Gilbert Community College on Jan. 21. The Aztecs won the game, 89-51. ( Caleb Foster/Aztec Press)

Aztecs go 4-0 in Holiday Ball-Out Tournament

Aztecs go 4-0 in Holiday Ball-Out Tournament


The Pima Community College men’s basketball team (15-5, 7-6 in ACCAC) has gone 3-3 so far in the new year. The Aztecs found themselves in four tight games recently, with all the contests being decided by just a few points one way or the other.

The Aztecs came up short against No. 5 Phoenix College in their road game on Jan 24. The 77-73 loss marked their second in a row.

Sophomore Matt O’Boyle was unable to be effective in the first half but helped the Aztecs push for a comeback in the second half.

Sophomore Murphy Gershman had 22 points and 16 rebounds in his 12th double-double game of the season, sophomores Bryan Cervantes and Ezini Ugbisien both finished with 13 points on the night.

The Aztecs fell to Chandler-Gilbert 81-79 on Jan 21. The closely contested game saw eight lead changes as both teams fought hard.

Key mistakes by the Aztecs and big plays for Chandler-Gilbert set the tempo for the game and ended up being the difference.

O’Boyle, who led the team with 23 points, came just shy of hitting a game winning buzzer beater. Gershman had another double-double on the night, 22 points and 12 rebounds. Cervantes added 14 points on the night.

The Aztecs almost faced another overtime contest against Scottsdale Community College on Jan. 17 in Scottsdale.

With 3.1 seconds left in the game O’Boyle drew a foul and hit one of his two free throws to give the Aztecs the 89-88 victory after a failed shot by Scottsdale.

O’Boyle ended the game with a team-high 26 points, aided by Gershman who scored 25 points and had 18 rebounds. Freshman Justice Martion finished the game with 12 points and seven rebounds.

Pima earned a hard fought 86-84 overtime victory against South Mountain Community College on Jan 14.

Gershman carried the Aztecs with his 33 point, double-double and his buzzer beating three-pointer in overtime to end the game.

The entire game was a battle with neither team gaining a double-digit lead. The teams went back and forth during the end of regulation, but behind a 10-2 run by Pima and two clutch free throws by Martion the Aztecs were able to force overtime.

Martion finished with a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double and Cervantes added 12 points of his own.

The Aztecs defeated Central Arizona 89-87 on Jan. 10 at home. Pima entered the second half down two points and continued to trail for the first 13 minutes.

Pima went on 15-2 run to gain the lead late in the game; Ugbisien sealed the game for the Aztecs by grabbing the last rebound.

Gershman had a game-high 24 points to lead the Aztecs to victory. O’Boyle, Cervantes, Martion and freshman Andre Bearden all finished with double digit points.

A nine-point halftime deficit doomed the Aztecs against Arizona Western on Jan. 7. Pima began to come back in the second half, cutting Arizona Western’s lead down to one, but weren’t able to complete the comeback.

Martion led the Aztecs with an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double on the night. Gershman finished with 16 points, trailed closely by Paige with 13.

PCC will face Tohono O’Odham CC on Jan. 28 at the West Campus after the Aztec Press goes to print. Coverage of the game will be included next issue.

Over the break, the team dominated in the Holiday Ball-Out Tournament en route to a 4-0 tournament record.

In their first game of the tournament, the Aztecs defeated Trinity Prep 71-33. O’Boyle led the team with 25 points followed by Cervantes who had 20.

The second game of the tournament was a much better match against San Diego Prep. Martion dropped 23 points to lead the Aztecs to a 68-62 victory. Freshman Dorian Paige finished the contest with 17 points.

Pima came alive offensively in the semifinals as they defeated South Shore Prep 132-80. Martion led the Aztecs with a double-double 32 points and 15 rebounds. Four other Pima players scored in double digits.

The Aztecs capped their win streak off with a 74-66 win against Balboa Prep in the championship game. Martion led PCC in points for the third game in a row with 19 points, Cervantes finished right behind him with 17.


Jan. 31: @ Glendale CC, 4 p.m.

Feb. 4: @EasternArizonaCollege, 7:30p.m.

Feb. 7: Cochise College, West Campus,


Feb. 11:MesaCC, WestCampus, 7:30p.m.

Pg15-Men's basketball-Murphy Gershman

Murphy Gersham looks to pass to teammate Matt O’Boyle during a game against Chandler-Gilbert on Jan. 21. Pima lost the game 81-79. ( Caleb Foster/Aztec Press)

From corn fields to coaching

From corn fields to coaching


As a teen, Pima Community College women’s basketball coach Todd Holthaus participated in multiple sports.

“I grew up in the corn fields of Iowa,” he said. “My high school was so small that we were almost expected to play every sport because we needed the bodies.” Holthaus developed into a talented basketball player and parlayed that skill into a two-year opportunity close to home at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa.

He then made his way to Phoenix and played basketball for Grand Canyon University. After graduating in 1995, he taught elementary school in Phoenix for a few years. His wife Jennifer, a University of Arizona graduate, convinced him to move south. “I moved to Tucson because my wife went to the UA,” he said.

Holthaus taught and coached at Flowing Wells High School for seven years, then worked as a UA women’s basketball assistant coach for two years. “When you’re a Division I coach, you’re gone from your family a lot and at the time my kids were really small,” he said.

A coaching position opened at PCC in 2006, and Holthaus took a chance. “It was a situation where I wanted to be around my family more and it just happened to work out,” he said.

“It came with about a $50,000 pay cut but since then we’ve worked it out to where I can be here full time.” Holthaus said he draws inspiration from his wife and four children, and works hard every day because of them.

His oldest child is 13 and his youngest is 18 months old. “Yeah, we have a full house,” he said.

Coaches often get credit for teaching but Holthaus said his players always manage to teach him things. “I enjoy coaching because I feel like I still learn things,” he said.

“My biggest satisfaction in being the Pima coach is helping kids move on to a four-year university, especially if they want to keep playing basketball.”

Basketball can help pay for an education, he said, “which in the big picture is the most important thing.”

Sophomore guard Jayla Brown said Holthaus has a way of connecting with players on and off the court. “I absolutely love how he pushes me past what I’m comfortable with,” she said

Holthaus said female athletes still face challenges. “Exposure and funding has a long way to go, and there’s not as much professional opportunity as there is for men,” he said. His biggest personal challenge is holding himself to a high standard so he’ll be a good role model for the young women he coaches, Holthaus said.

“I just always want to be here for them, so that when they graduate and years down they can look back and still count on me and still invite me to weddings,” he added.

“He’s a great coach,” freshmen guard Gabby Banales said. “He actually cares about us and wants us to do good things away from basketball.”

During his time at PCC, Holthaus has seen the basketball program evolve and gain positive recognition. “We’ve established a good reputation, not just locally but nationally,” he said.

“We’re usually ranked and I think that makes it easier to recruit because people associate success with Pima.” Having more players wanting to join the team means he must be a little pickier, but Holthaus called that “a good problem to have.” Holthaus and his team take part in many community events, such as volunteering at local elementary schools to promote an active lifestyle. “We go to different schools and participate in recess, because they keep cutting programs for PE,” he said. “We go and keep the young kids active so they’re not just sitting around.” It bothers him when schools drop physical education programs. “It’s extremely important to me,” he said. “It seems like physical activity is becoming less and less important to people.”

Head women's basketball coach Todd Holthaus watches from the sideline during the Phoenix College game on Nov. 22 Pima won the home opener 50-38

Head women’s basketball coach Todd Holthaus watches from the sideline during the Phoenix College game on Nov. 22 Pima won the home opener 50-38

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Pima showcases defense in victory

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Pima showcases defense in victory


The Pima Community College women’s basketball team used strong defense to pick up its second conference win.

The Aztecs (3-1, 2-0 in ACCAC conference) defeated Phoenix College 50-38 on Nov. 22 in their home opener. Pima got out to a rough start offensively but forced Phoenix College to turn the ball over 28 times.

“The girls did a good job playing defense on a night when we struggled offensively,” head coach Todd Holthaus said. “Playing good defense and rebounding will carry us a long way.”

Sophomore forward Melody McLaughlin led the team with 11 points and nine rebounds. She was named ACCAC Division II player of the week on Nov. 24. Freshman forward Hayley Pryor finished with nine points and six rebounds.

In a Nov. 19 road game, the Aztecs won their first conference matchup when they defeated Chandler-Gilbert Community College 72-58. Pima grabbed 25 offensive rebounds and out-rebounded Chandler-Gilbert 47-28.

The Aztecs held a double digit lead for most of the game and held a 38-29 lead by halftime. McLaughlin finished with 20 points and eight rebounds. Pryor recorded a double-double, with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Seven of the rebounds came on the offensive end. Freshman forward Shalise Fernander also had seven offensive rebounds, and finished the game with 12 points, eight rebounds, four steals and two blocks.

Freshman guard Samirah Miller had 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting. Early in the game, freshman guard Jahnae Martin went down with a knee injury. “Jahnae got hurt about 10 minutes into the game,” Holthaus said. “She went up for a layup and got bumped. She came down awkwardly, then collapsed right away.”

The team rallied after the injury. “This is a very close team and the girls did a good job,” Holthaus said. “We got the win on the road.” Pima was scheduled to play at Tohono O’Odham Community College on Nov. 25 in Sells. The game took place after the Aztec Press went to the printer.


Pg15-Women's basketball-Samirah Miller

Freshman guard Samirah Miller drives to the basket. (Aztec Press photo by Larry Gaurano)

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Aztecs test skills at tournament

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Aztecs test skills at tournament


The Pima Community College women’s basketball opened their season with a split in the Arizona Western Classic in Yuma. On Nov. 6, PCC defeated Spire Institute (OH) 88-54 in the first game of the tourney. The Aztecs came out ready to play and five players scored in double figures and out rebounded Spire 57-18 for the game. Pima took a 17-point lead into half time and outscored their opponent 41-24 after the break. The Aztecs shared the ball well and finished with 21 assists for the game. Freshmen Kristin Baldwin finished the game with a double-double and led Pima in scoring with 14 points. She also had 11 rebounds. Sophomore Melody McLaughlin and sophomore Alexa Arndt each finished with 12 points. McLaughlin also contributed seven assists. The team played Illinois Central College on Nov. 7 in the second day of the Arizona Western Classic. The Aztecs were in control for much of the first period and took a 31-24 lead into halftime. In the second half, Pima was out scored 47-33 and lost, 71-64. Sophomore Jayla Brown was on fire from beyond the arc and hit four three-point bombs. Brown finished with a team high 21 points. McLaughlin finished with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds. “We won one and lost one, but we played really well together,” McLaughlin said. Pima begins conference play on Nov. 19 when they travel to take on Chandler-Gilbert Community College at 5:30 p.m.

Jahnae Martin sets up the offense during a scrimmage (Photo by Beto Hoyos)

Jahnae Martin sets up the offense during a scrimmage (Photo by Beto Hoyos)

Melody finds basketball harmony

Melody finds basketball harmony


 Sophomore forward Melody McLaughlin began playing organized basketball in 7th grade. Most athletes who attend college on an athletic scholarship start sooner, but hard work and a love for the game allowed her to evolve into a talented player.

McLaughlin’s a lifelong Tucsonan who attended Mountain View High School. She realized during high school that basketball could take her places.

“My sophomore year of high school I got on a club team and I started to take basketball more serious,” she said. “I didn’t really expect to play in college but once I got serious about it I knew it was something I wanted to do.”

Spare time doesn’t come often, but she enjoys riding quads and partaking in outdoor recreation.

The time consuming schedule and demands of the student-athlete life is rigorous on the body and mind.

“To be a student-athlete, you have to have mental toughness and physical toughness,” McLaughlin said. “We’re working out every single day, we’re playing all the time, then you have to get rest.”

Head coach Todd Holthaus said he looks to McLaughlin for leadership.

“She’s a great girl, a smart girl,” he said.

McLaughlin can’t see her life without basketball. “If I don’t play for a day or two, it’s just weird to me,” she said. “I just love it.”

Basketball has allowed McLaughlin to grow off the court and become a better person.

“I’ve definitely become more of a leader and a role model, and it’s made me more assertive,” she said.

The sport has also taught McLaughlin to cope with both hard times and triumph.

“I use basketball every day,” she said. “Whether I’m having problems or it’s a good day, it’s just a part of my everyday life.”

After McLaughlin finishes her time at PCC, she wants to continue playing college basketball.

“I’m hoping to play somewhere else after this, I mean that’s the goal,” she said.

McLaughlin is still undecided about what career to pursue. She plans to continue her education and knows basketball will likely help pick up the tuition fee.

“Basketball will help me pay for my school, I hope, but besides that basketball has been what I’ve been looking forward to,” she said.

It also adds an extra touch of motivation in the classroom.

“I like school but basketball definitely motivates me to go to school and do well,” she said.

McLaughlin is the youngest of three half-siblings and says her supportive family has made her basketball experience even more memorable.

“My parents always try to make every game, and they always tell my friends to show up,” she said.

“I couldn’t do it without the support of my parents and my former high school coach.”

Photo by Beto Hoyos

Sophomore forward Melody McLaughlin drives the ball to the basket during a pre-season scrimmage at the West Campus gymnasium. (Aztec Press photo by Beto Hoyos)


MEN'S BASKETBALL: Aztecs open season with two close wins

MEN’S BASKETBALL: Aztecs open season with two close wins


 The Pima Community college men’s basketball team is hoping this is the year they return to winning ways. They opened the season with two close wins against non-conference teams.

The Aztecs had a 13-17 season record last year, and have gone 13 years without a winning record. The team has made one NJCAA championship, finishing seventh in 2010.

It also endured a string of head coaches before Brian Peabody returned last year to take the helm.

Peabody was originally hired as head coach 10 years ago, but was let go. At the high school level, he coached basketball at Salpointe Catholic and Ironwood Ridge. He has 443 wins and six state final appearances in his 25-year coaching career, the most of any Tucson coach.

He said last year that he can build a winning team, though he warned it could take a few seasons.

“I would love to play as up-tempo as we possibly can,” he said. “I need to be realistic, though.”

The Aztecs must replace Shakir Smith, who averaged 29.1 points per game last season. He is now playing at Division II Adams State in Alamosa, Colo.

Pima will expect returning sophomores to fill a leadership role, including center Ben Greshman forward Matt O’Boyle and guard/forward Bryan Cervantes.

Last season Gershman averaged 19 points per game and registered 20 double-doubles.

This season, the Aztecs jumped out to an early 2-0 record in pre-conference play. They won both games by a combined three points, and trailed at halftime each time.

Pima showed resilience and determination on Nov. 3 with an 82-81 win against Planet Athlete.

The Aztecs faced deficits of up to 14 points and were behind 37-44 at halftime. They got back on track with an 8-0 run in the second half.

After a few lead changes, Pima took the lead for good with a basket by freshman DeVaunte Paschal. Sophomore Andres Marquez hit two critical free throws to make it 82-78 with 29.3 seconds left. Planet Athlete hit a three-pointer with 21 seconds left.

Gershman and Cervantes both started this season with a double-double. Gershman scored 20 points and secured 11 rebounds, while Cervantes finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

O’Boyle scored a team-high 22 points on 7-for-17 shooting. Paschal finished with 13 points and Marquez contributed with 11 points.

On Nov. 8, the Aztecs again used a last-second put back to defeat West Wind Prep Academy 91-89.

Cervantes grabbed an offensive rebound off a Gershman miss, and scored the put-back. Cervantes also tipped the following inbounds play as the clock expired.

The Aztecs trailed for much of the first half and were down 42-37 at halftime.

Gershman was 1-for-8 with six points in the first half but scored 10 points in the first six minutes of the second half. He finished the game with 25 points.

O’Boyle scored 25 points, going 8-for-15 from the field and 6-for-10 from three-point range. Freshman Dorian Paige contributed 11 points, five assists and four rebounds off the bench.

Pima was scheduled to play Arizona Christian University at the West Campus on Nov. 12. The game took place after Aztec Press went to the printer.

The Aztecs open conference play Nov. 19 at Chandler-Gilbert Community College in Chandler. Their first home conference game will be Nov. 22 against Phoenix College.



Nov. 15: Phase 1 Academy,West Campus gym, 2 p.m.

Nov. 19: @ Chandler-Gilbert CC, Chandler, 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 22: Phoenix College, West Campus gym, 5 p.m.

Nov. 25: @ Tohono O’Odham CC, Sells, 7:30 p.m.



WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Retooled team has 10 freshmen

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Retooled team has 10 freshmen


Last season, the Pima Community College women’s basketball team was a well-oiled machine and a tough matchup for many conference opponents.

The Aztecs made it to the Division II Region I championship game as the No. 2 seed, but lost to No. 1 Mesa Community College for the third straight year.

This season, they’ve revamped their roster and brought in 10 freshmen.

“We’re really inexperienced but with that being said, we have a lot of very talented freshmen,” head coach Todd Holthaus said. “I’m really excited to see what happens.”

Holthaus is proud of the hard work his team has exhibited early in the preseason and believes the diligence will pay off.

“They’re a hard working group, extremely hard working group, I love it,” he said.

Becoming comfortable with new teammates and developing good team chemistry can take a while to develop but with the regular season quickly approaching, the Aztecs must develop chemistry on the fly.

“We’re working on our chemistry but this has been one of the lowest maintenance teams I’ve ever had,” Holthaus said.

Returning sophomore Melody McLaughlin is confident in her team and optimistic about the freshmen.

“Our defense is going to win us games and overall we communicate well,” she said.

“Being able to talk on and off the floor keeps up our chemistry and that’s just something we have to keep working on, because we’re girls,” McLaughlin added jokingly.

Newcomers to the PCC basketball program have enjoyed getting to know their new teammates and are excited to join a team with winning traditions.

“I love Pima and I love all these girls,” freshman Ashley Mack said. “Even though sometimes we get on each other’s nerve, I still love them.”

Mack expects the Aztecs to continue their high-octane offense.

“We’re big and we’re really fast,” Mack said. “We also all play pretty smart and we all get along on the court.”

Holthaus expects returning sophomores McLaughlin, Adrianna Barrientez, Jayla Brown and Alexa Arndt to lead on and off the court.

“Our leaders are probably Mel, Adri and Jayla, so we’re really inexperienced,” he said.

On Deck:

Oct. 30: Tucson Sol scrimmage, West Campus, 7 p.m.

Nov. 6-7: @ Arizona Western Classic, Yuma, TBA.

Nov. 19: @ Chandler-Gilbert CC, Chandler, 5:30 p.m.

Nov. 22: Phoenix College, West Campus, 2 p.m.

Current and former aztec players hudle prior to the annual Alumni game

Current and former Aztec players huddle prior to the annual alumni game. (Photo courtesy of PCC0

Fall ball in full swing

Fall ball in full swing


The Pima Community College softball and baseball teams are playing fall ball to prepare for spring conference games.

The softball team will take part in the University of Arizona’s Fall Classic tournament Oct. 17-19. The Aztecs are scheduled to play a rival from last season, Yavapai College, on Oct. 18.

Last season, the Aztecs made it to the championship series of the Region I Division II playoff tournament but lost to Arizona Western College.

On Oct. 28, head coach Armando Quiroz will take his Aztecs to Tempe to play Arizona State University at 6 p.m.

Baseball head coach Jason Hisley has also scheduled fall games.

The Aztecs will play at West Campus against the UA baseball club on Oct. 16 at 4 p.m., then face South Mountain Community College on Oct. 19 at 11 a.m.

Last year, the Aztecs’ season came to an end in the first round of the playoffs at the hands of South Mountain.

They’ll travel to Douglas on Oct. 25 to play Cochise College at 11 a.m.

Ex-Pima athletes sign with universities

Ex-Pima athletes sign with universities


Pima Community College’s fall sports teams have kicked off their seasons, which means new student-athletes have arrived to fill the void of past student alumni.

A number of former Aztecs will equally fill the void for universities at the next level. Here’s a look at some key signings that took place over the summer.

Softball Former Aztec slugger Alexis Dotson will stay local but receive an opportunity to shine under the bright lights of Hillenbrand Stadium as an Arizona Wildcat. Dotson was selected as an NJCAA First-Team All-American during Pima’s 2014 campaign. Stacey Ramirez, a former Pima shortstop, will head to Canyon, Texas, to play for the West Texas A&M Buffaloes.

Baseball Former baseball players Cole Plouck and Kellen Marruffo will not only continue their careers as student-athletes but potentially as professionals. Plouck was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 16th round of the 2014 Major League Baseball draft. He signed a letter of intent to play at Florida International University. Marruffo was also named First-Team All-ACCAC. He will suit up for the University of Utah.

Basketball Women’s basketball made a strong run during last season’s ACCAC playoffs, but many of the team’s main contributors will not be on the Aztec bench in 2014. Alicia Jones has relocated to Tallahassee to play for Florida A&M University. At Pima, Jones averaged 14 points. Her former teammate Raja Moreno-Ross will be across the globe at the University of Hawaii in Hilo. Moreno-Ross was named a NJCAA First-Team All-American last season.

On the men’s side, Shakir Smith led the NJCAA Division II in scoring with more than 29 points per game. Against Phoenix College, the eventual Division II national champions, Smith racked up 54 points in Pima’s thrilling overtime 108-104 loss. Smith should prep for a cold winter at Adams State University in Alamosa, Colo.

Raja Moreno-Ross (Photo courtesy of PCC Athletics)

Raja Moreno-Ross (Photo courtesy of PCC Athletics)


Smith is headed to Adams state in Colorado

Smith is headed to Adams state in Colorado

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Ross-Moreno jersey going to hall of fame

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Ross-Moreno jersey going to hall of fame

Compiled from PCC press releases

Pima Community College women’s basketball player Raja Moreno-Ross has received another honor, this time from the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The sophomore’s player jersey will be displayed in the Hall’s Ring of Honor in recognition of her 2013-14 season.

Moreno-Ross is the third Pima women’s basketball player to earn the honor. Pima All-Americans Deanna Daniels (2011) and A’jha Edwards (2013) also had their jerseys displayed in the Ring of Honor.

“Currently, we have over 100 jerseys hanging in the Ring of Honor, including high school and college All-Americans from the 2012-13 season,” Josh Sullivan, director of basketball operations & technology for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, wrote in a letter.

“With that having been the case since the Hall of Fame opened in 1999, you can imagine the caliber of players’ jerseys that have once hung in our rafters,” he wrote. “Without a doubt, Raja Moreno (Ross) is definitely a part of an elite group, and a part of history now too.”

Moreno-Ross was selected by the NJCAA as a Division II first team All-American on April 10.

It was the second straight year that a women’s basketball player was selected a Division II All-American. Moreno-Ross is the fifth Aztec to be selected first team All-American in seven years for the women’s basketball team.

This season, Moreno-Ross started all 32 games for the Aztecs. She averaged 13 points and nine rebounds per game playing almost 25 minutes per game.

Moreno-Ross was also named first team All-ACCAC and first team All-Region I, Division II.

She has verbally committed to play at the University of Hawaii.

Raja Moreno-Ross (Photo courtesy of PCC Athletics)

Raja Moreno-Ross (Photo courtesy of PCC Athletics)

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Aztecs lose in playoffs

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Aztecs lose in playoffs


The season came to a close for the Pima Community College women’s basketball team on March 6 after the Aztecs fell to Mesa Community College for the third straight year. Pima lost 65-64.

Both teams got after it from the opening tip and both teams exchanged leads. The Aztecs led by 10 late in the first half but Mesa ended the half on a 7-0 run. Pima took a two-point lead into the half.

For much of the second half, the Aztecs held a single-digit lead. Mesa’s first lead of the half came with a little over five minutes left in the game.

With 1:22 left, sophomore Holly Bolen drained a three-pointer to give the Aztecs a one-point lead. Mesa tied it up with a free throw before sophomore Felicia Foster drained a three-pointer of her own to put Pima up 62-59 with less than a minute to go.

After hitting a pair of free throws and scoring on an inbounds play to the post, Mesa took the lead for good.

Sophomore Alicia Jones led the team in scoring with 17 points while also grabbing 11 rebounds

Sophomore Raja Moreno-Ross finished her final game as an Aztec with 12 points and nine rebounds. Foster finished the game with 12 points.

On March 4, the Aztecs advanced to the championship game after defeating No. 3 Chandler-Gilbert Community College 79-65.

“This time of year you survive and advance,” head coach Todd Holthaus said.

Both teams came out focused and exchanged leads in the first half. The game was tied 34-34 going into halftime.

“Coach said at halftime that we can’t take anything for granted and to do everything we have to for the win,” sophomore Rachel Williams said.

Williams finished with 12 points off the bench.

“It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t the way we wanted to play but we came out in the second half and got it done,” Holthaus said.

The Aztecs started the second half with an 11-4 run. Freshman Melody McLaughlin scored seven straight points and helped put the Aztecs up 50-41 midway through the half.

Freshman Jayla Brown drained a three-pointer to give Pima its first double-digit lead at 53-43. The biggest lead of the game came off a McLaughlin bucket that put the Aztecs up 76-58.

McLaughlin scored 16 of her 18 points in the second half and also grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists.

Moreno-Ross had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Jones finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Freshman Melody McLaughlin takes the ball downcourt. (Photo by Peter Bernal)

Freshman Melody McLaughlin takes the ball downcourt. (Photo by Peter Bernal)