By DIEGO LOZANO III
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.
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.
By BETO HOYOS
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.
By JAIME HERNANDEZ
When Brian Peabody took the head coaching job for the men’s basketball team at Pima Community College, he knew he needed to change the team’s culture.
The Aztecs had gone 77-196 since 2004, with four head coaching changes and one playoff appearance.
That all changed during Peabody’s first year. He led the Aztecs to a 15-16 record. His team went 10-12 in conference play and secured the No. 4 seed in the Region I, Division II playoffs.
The Aztecs’ season ended when they lost an overtime thriller in the opening round of the playoffs, falling to No. 1 seed Phoenix College 108-104.
Sophomore Shakir Smith finished with 54 points and sophomore Tyler D’Amore hit a three-pointer with 20 seconds left to tie the game and force overtime. However, Phoenix College hit two three-pointers in overtime to win the game.
Freshman Ben Gershman had his 20th double-double of the season, with 14 points and 18 rebounds.
“I think we accomplished everything we set out to do this season with the exception of making the national tournament,” Peabody said.
Talented players including Smith, Gershman and freshmen Matt O’Boyle and Andres Marquez helped Peabody meet those goals.
Smith and Gershman earned All-Conference honors.
Pima will have most of its roster intact next season, losing only Smith and D’Amore. The rest of the team is expected to return.
Peabody said he wants to add more size to the roster, to compete with bigger teams in the conference. He also wants his team to work on strength training.
“We need to get into the weight room and just get stronger,” Peabody said. “There were a lot of games where teams just flat-out punked us because of our strength, and that can’t happen.”
Now that he has had time to look back on his first season, Peabody feels the Aztecs overachieved.
Peabody has set high standards for himself and his teams everywhere he has coached, and has met them every time. He vows to eventually take Pima to the national tournament.
“We’ll get there one year,” he said. “I’m not going to make any promises, but I’m not gonna stop till we make the national tournament.”
By SHAQ DAVIS
March Madness has certainly started.
It will reach pitch fever on March16 during Selection Sunday, when seeds in the men’s NCAA basketball tournament are revealed.
Once games begin on March 18, it is win or go home for the 68 teams competing.
For the first few days, there will seem to be no end to tournament games broadcast on the CBS and Turner television networks.
Mid-major Cinderellas will rise and juggernauts will fall in arenas across the nation. From New York to San Diego, teams will leave it all on the floor, hoping to advance to the championship game in Arlington, Texas, on April 7.
March Madness brings back memorable moments for many fans. Memories such as:
- Magic beating Bird in the 1979 national championship, leading to a heated rivalry later in the NBA.
- The shot heard around the world in 2008, when Mario Chalmers hit a game-tying three that ultimately led Kansas to a championship over Memphis.
- Duke forward Christian Laettner drilling a desperation buzzer-beater that knocked out the Kentucky Wildcats in route to back-to-back championships in 1992.
- Head coach Jimmy Valvano and the N.C. State Wolfpack’s triumphant victory over the Houston Cougars as Lorenzo Charles dunked an airball before time expired in the title game of 1983.
A staple of tournament excitement can be summed up in one word: bracketology.
Filling out tournament brackets is a way to get involved monetarily, emotionally and physically as people root for their team to make it to the championship game.
Businessman Warren Buffet is offering $1 billion to anyone who gets a perfect bracket. The odds turn out to be 1-in-9.2 quintillion.
Filling out a bracket is worthwhile because you get to enjoy games and see how good your predictions are. Who knows, you might even take your buddies’ money from it.
One powerhouse looking to win will be the University of Arizona. The Wildcats enter the tournament with high expectations of getting a No. 1 seed.
Since 1979, 17 of 34 teams given a No. 1 seed won the NCAA tournament.
No. 1 tournament seeds have never lost in the first round. Will this be the year we see history happen?
In the end, the tournament comes down to one thing: winning. Any team can beat another, even if the odds are against them.
That’s the beauty of March Madness.
By BETO HOYOS
Pima Community College’s women’s basketball team is looking ahead to the playoffs following a loss in the regular-season finale.
The No. 2 seeded Aztecs will host No. 3 Chandler-Gilbert Community College on March 4 for the first round of the Division II regional tournament. The playoffs will run from March 4-6.
Pima ended the regular season with a 73-61 loss to Glendale Community College on Feb. 21.
The Aztecs tried to keep Glendale’s lead in check but trailed by nine at the half. In the second half, Pima did a better job of defending Glendale and limiting easy shots, but couldn’t find enough offense to turn the game around.
On Feb. 18, PCC defeated Arizona Western College 72-58. It was the final home game of the season, and the team made sure to go all-out in front of faithful fans.
Sophomores Holly Bolen, Felicia Foster, Raja Moreno-Ross, Shayna Porter-Banks and Rachel Williams were recognized after the game.
Freshman Alicia Jones was also honored. She has earned a scholarship to Florida A&M University, and will transfer there next year.
From the opening tip, the Aztecs fired on all cylinders. The previous meeting between the two teams saw Pima fall in overtime.
The Aztecs took a 17-point lead into the break and emerged from the locker room with the same intensity. Pima led by as many as 29 points in the second half.
Williams led the way with 16 points, while Jones finished with 15 points and Foster had 10.
On Feb. 15, the team defeated Cochise College 81-66.
Early in the first half, the Aztecs were down by 15 points. After an 8-0 run to bring the score within two points, Pima went into halftime with the lead.
At the beginning of the second half, the Aztecs held an 11-point lead but Cochise slowly came back and tied the game at 57 points. Pima responded with a 15-0 run to put the game out of reach.
Jones led the Aztecs with 20 points. Foster finished with 14 points and five assists, and freshman Melody McLaughlin finished with 13 points.
On Feb. 12, Pima handed Tohono O’odham Community College a 103-68 loss.
The Aztecs opened the game with relentless offense and tough defense, and held a 14-point lead by halftime. In the second half, the Aztecs outscored Tohono O’odham by 21 points.
Three Pima players were selected to Arizona Community College Athletic Conference All-Conference and All-Region teams.
Moreno-Ross was selected First Team All-ACCAC and First-Team All-Region I, Division II. She had 11 double-doubles during the season, averaging 13 points and nine rebounds per game. She started in all 30 regular-season games for the Aztecs.
Foster was selected Second Team All-ACCAC and First Team All-Region. She also started all 30 games for the Aztecs, and averaged 11 points and three assists per game.
Jones was named Third Team All-ACCAC and Second Team All-Region. She led Pima in scoring, averaging almost 14 points a game. She was second in rebounding, averaging almost six per game.
By JAIME HERNANDEZ
Pima Community College’s men’s basketball team lost an overtime thriller in the opening round of the playoffs, ending their season.
The team fell to No. 1 seed Phoenix College 108-104 in the first round of the Region I, Division II tournament on Feb. 26. The Aztecs finished their season with a 13-18 record, an seven-win improvement from last year.
It was only the second time in 11 years that Pima’s men’s basketball team made the playoffs.
Sophomore Shakir Smith finished the game with 54 points, including 13 consecutive points that put the Aztecs ahead 89-86 with a little more than three minutes left.
Later, with Pima down 96-93, sophomore Tyler D’Amore hit a three-pointer with 20 seconds left to tie the game and force overtime.
Phoenix College hit a couple threes in overtime that proved too much to overcome.
Freshman Ben Gershman finished the season with his 20th double-double of the season with 14 points and 18 rebounds.
Pima will have most of its roster intact going into next season, losing only Smith and D’Amore. The rest of the team is expected to return.
In the final game of the regular season, PCC fell to Glendale Community College 108-86 on Feb. 21.
The loss was the Aztecs’ sixth in a row heading into the playoffs. They finished the season with a 13-17 record and went 8-14 in conference play.
Wins were hard to come by in the final games of the season.
Pima fell to Arizona Western College 85-69 on Feb. 18.
The Aztecs were down by as many as 21 points in the second half but climbed back to cut the lead to eight before Western again pulled away.
“I’m really proud of how our team played tonight,” head coach Brian Peabody said. “They showed a lot of fight and didn’t give up.”
Freshman Ben Gershman led the team with 32 points and 11 rebounds.
Despite the losses, Pima clinched the fourth and final playoff spot in the playoffs due to South Mountain’s loss to Eastern Arizona College.
Pima also fell in a nail biter to Cochise College 82-78 on Feb. 15.
The game went back and forth the entire night, but was sealed when Cochise hit a three pointer with 1:49 left in the game.
Freshman Kendrick Little tried to retaliate for Pima but missed. Little finished the game with 15 points. Shakir Smith was the Aztecs’ leading scorer with 23 points.
On Feb. 12, Pima lost to Tohono O’Odham 106-95.
Pima had a 60-51 lead going into halftime, but was unable to hold on to it. Smith led the way for the Aztecs with 38 points and five rebounds.
Gershman and Smith were named to the All-Conference/Region Teams.
Gershman was named to the Second Team All-ACCAC conference and First Team All-Region I, Division II. He finished the regular season averaging 19 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.
Smith was named to the Second Team All-ACCAC conference and Second Team All-Region I, Division II. Smith averaged 27.7 points per game.
By BETO HOYOS
Pima Community College defeated Mesa Community College 61-58 in an overtime thriller on Feb. 8.
“We just made one more shot than the other team,” head coach Todd Holthaus said.
Mesa tied the game toward the end of regulation and extended the game to overtime.
“Mesa and Pima games are epic and today proved no different,” Holthaus said.
With time running down, Felicia Foster found Alicia Jones open from deep as time expired. The Aztecs stormed the court in celebration.
“A great win against a great team,” Holthaus said.
Jones finished with 26 points and nine rebounds. Foster had nine points.
On Feb. 5, Pima defeated South Mountain Community College 75-53.
Coming out of the half, the Aztecs hunkered down defensively and held on to a comfortable lead. The largest lead for the Aztecs was 75-50.
Jayla Brown hit four shots from deep and finished the game with 12 points. Raja Moreno-Ross had 20 points and 11 rebounds.
On Feb. 1, the Aztecs defeated Scottsdale Community College 64-63.
The first half saw both teams exchange leads. After halftime, the Aztecs held leads that never surpassed six points.
“There were a few bad calls and we weren’t making our free throws but we did stick together,” Holly Bolen said.
With 1:03 seconds left to play, Melody McLaughlin found Foster open for a three. After a few possessions of fighting back, Scottsdale hit an open three that cut the lead to two with 21 seconds left.
“Coach always talks about playing for a full 40 minutes, not 38, not 20, but 40 and that game was not a reflection of that,” Bolen said.
Moreno-Ross tallied her tenth double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 boards. Rachel Williams finished with a team-high 13 points off the bench and Foster finished with 12 points.
On Jan. 29, the Aztecs broke a losing streak when they defeated Phoenix College 81-65 and swept the season series.
Pima took an early lead with a 15-0 run. The biggest lead of the game came after McLaughlin hit a three and put the Aztecs up 34-17.
Coming out of halftime, Phoenix College cut into the Aztecs’ lead and trailed by five. The Aztecs responded by going on an 8-0 run.
Moreno-Ross led the team in scoring, finishing with 17 points. Jones had 16 points and seven rebounds. McLaughlin finished with 12 points and Williams had 12 points off the bench.
By JAIME HERNANDEZ
Pima Community College fell to Mesa College 85-70 on Feb. 8.
Mesa was able to sweep the season series with Pima and in doing so they put a real dent in Pima’s playoff chances.
The Aztecs are currently tied for third place with the top four teams making the playoffs.
Mesa controlled the paint for the entire game and Pima was unable to control them.
Freshmen Murphy Gershman and Kendrick Little lead the way for Pima. Gershman finished with his 17th double-double of the seasons with 14 points and 17 rebounds.
While Little added 17 points off the bench.
Sophomore Shakir Smith had a season low of 11 points.
The Aztecs have four games remaining on their schedule and will need to win at least three to guarantee a playoff spot.
Pima fell to South Mountain Community College 109-105 in overtime on Feb. 5.
With the loss the Aztecs record fell 13-12 with an 8-9 conference record. Only one game stands between them making the playoffs and falling short.
Coach Brian Peabody is very pleased with how his team has been playing the past five games. The offensive flow has been good, but they still need to work on the defensive side of the ball.
South Mountain was in a dogfight the entire night with Pima, but they were finally able to pull away when the game went into overtime.
Smith led the way for the Aztecs with a 42-point performance. Freshman Matt O’Boyle had 17 points while Gershman contributed with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The Aztecs must keep winning in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Pima defeated Scottsdale Community College 97-86 on Feb. 1.
The win was the Aztecs’ fourth in a row improving their record to 13-11 with an 8-8 record in conference.
Pima overwhelmed Scottsdale from the start. They did what they normally do when they play well and that is to have a great inside-outside game.
Gershman dominated the inside with 30 points and 18 rebounds, while O’Boyle did a little of both with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Smith took care of the perimeter with his 30 points. He also contributed four steals in the game.
The Aztecs were able to avenge a previous loss to Scottsdale from back in November.
“I’m excited about the way we’ve been playing lately,” Gershman said. “If we can build on this and keep getting better over the next few weeks we’ll be in good position to make the playoffs.”
Pima defeated Phoenix College 80-75 on Jan. 29.
The Aztecs controlled the game throughout. O’Boyle’s 22 points on 8-11 shooting and 4-5 from behind the arch led them.
Marquez also added 13 points and three assists off the bench. With the win, the Aztecs’ playoff hopes remain alive.
Peabody feels as long as his team plays the way they are playing now that his team will be a tough-out versus whomever they play.
The Aztecs played at Tohono O’Odham Community College Feb. 12.
By JAIME HERNANDEZ
Pima Community College’s men’s basketball team is looking to build on a two-game winning streak as the playoffs draw closer.
The Aztecs defeated Chandler-Gilbert 99-88 on Jan. 25, sweeping the season series.
The win improved Pima’s record to 11-11, with a 6-8 conference record.
Freshman Murphy Gershman led the way with 23 points and eight rebounds. Freshman Matt O’Boyle added 15 points for the Aztecs, while sophomore Shakir Smith had another 30-point night.
The win puts the Aztecs one step closer to making the conference tournament. They are in a dogfight for the last spot.
Pima snapped its four-game losing streak on Jan. 22 with a win over Central Arizona, 81-76.
Four players scored in double figures, with Gershman and Smith leading the way with 20 points apiece.
O’Boyle added 17 points, while freshman Andres Marquez scored 10 coming off the bench.
Head coach Brian Peabody was pleased with the team’s effort.
“We had to go back to the drawing board,” Peabody said. “We started it at practice. I wanted to make them as competitive as we could get them.”
Peabody hopes to instill a sense of urgency with his team, since there’s only 10 games left in the season.
He feels the Aztecs need to win at least five or six to make the playoffs.
Pima fell to Eastern Arizona College 88-69 on Jan. 18, their fourth loss in a row.
With the win, Eastern was able to avenge its 99-96 loss to the Aztecs last November.
With a little over six minutes left in the game, Pima had a 84-77 lead but Glendale went on a 8-0 run to go up 84-85.
They later hit two three-pointers to take a 93-90 lead and never looked back.
Smith led the way for Pima with 26 points.
Pima fell to Glendale Community College 105-103 on Jan. 15.
The Aztecs led most of the way but failed to close the game out.
Smith finished the game with 36 points and five assist, while Gershman had his 12th double-double of the season with 32 points and 15 rebounds performance.
The Arizona Community College Athletic Conference named Smith its Division II Player of the Week for Jan. 6-12.
By BETO HOYOS
Pima Community College’s women’s basketball team started 2014 with a flurry of games, and is currently sitting at .500 for their overall record (11-11) and in their conference (7-7).
A tough series of matchups have left the Aztecs looking to bounce back after a three-game losing streak.
On Jan. 25, the Aztecs lost a close game to Chandler-Gilbert Community College, falling 87-83. Sophomore Raja Moreno-Ross performed best for Pima, draining 30 points and snagging 15 boards for her ninth double-double of the season.
Pima suffered another heartbreaking loss on Jan. 22, when the Aztecs were a half-court shot away from tying the game at the buzzer against sixth-ranked Central Arizona. PCC lost the game 64-61.
With four minutes left in the game, Pima was leading 54-50, thanks in part to freshman Holly Bolen’s 15-point, 16-rebound performance coming off the bench, before a run by Central put the game out of reach.
On Jan. 18, Eastern Arizona College hosted the No. 15 Pima Community College Women’s basketball team. The Aztecs rallied late in the game but could not come away with the win, falling to the Gila Monsters 72-59.
Late in the second half, the Aztecs found themselves down 16 before going on 10-0 run to get back within striking distance. But that would be as close as the Aztecs would come.
Freshman Alicia Jones finished the game with 11 points and sophomore Shayna Porter-Banks added 10 points off the bench. Moreno-Ross contributed nine points and eight rebounds.
On Jan. 15, the women’s basketball team took on Glendale Community College at the West Campus, controlling much of the game on the way to victory.
The Aztecs were dialed in from three-point land, draining 11 three-pointers in the game.
Pima’s bench contributed big numbers, producing 32 points, including 11 from freshman Adrianna Barrientez.
Jones hit three free throws to give the Aztecs an 11-point lead late in the first half. At halftime, the Aztecs led by 16.
In the second half, the Aztecs came out firing on all cylinders and at one point led by 32 points. Pima defeated Glendale 96-75.
Sophomore Felicia Foster finished the game with 19 points, with 12 of those points coming in the first half. Moreno-Ross finished with 15 points, while freshman Melody McLaughlin finished with 13 points. Jones finished with 11 points, eight of those coming in the second half.
On Jan. 11, the Aztecs traveled to Yuma to take on Arizona Western College.
Pima had its hands full all game long. At halftime, the Aztecs found themselves down eight.
The Aztecs remained resilient and came back in the second half to slowly chip away at the deficit. There were 12 lead changes throughout the game as both teams fought hard late in the second half.
With six minutes to go, the Aztecs took their first lead of the half, going up 45-44. Then with four minutes left in regulation, the Aztecs found themselves up by three.
In the final moments of the second half, Jones drained a three point bomb to force overtime.
In extra time, Pima’s luck finally ran out. In the extra period, the Aztecs would score only one point, falling to Arizona Western College 60-55.
Moreno-Ross posted a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Jones and Foster both finished the game with 11 points, while McLaughlin had seven points and eight rebounds.
Pima played Phoenix College at West Campus on Jan. 29, after Aztec Press went to the printer.
By JAIME HERNANDEZ
Pima Community College beat Tohono O’dham Community College 87-84 on Jan. 4, extending the Aztecs’ winning streak to six games and improving their record to 9-7 on the season.
The game had 23 different lead changes, but the Aztecs came away with the victory.
TOCC players were bigger at every position, but the Aztecs won thanks to leadership by the dynamic duo of freshman center Ben Gershman, and sophomore guard Shakir Smith.
No team seemed to ever have control of the game. When Pima made a run, Tohono would come back. Whenever Tohono made a run, Pima would do the same. The largest lead any team had was six points.
Coach Brian Peabody said after the game that he was thrilled with the way his team battled.
He said that this is how every conference game must be played if the Aztecs expect to keep winning.
Gershman led the way for the Aztecs once again, putting up another double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
“As a team, we had to fight tonight, that’s what every conference game is going to be like,” Gershman said.
“Murph had to work a lot harder than he usually does, a lot of thanks goes to him and his performance,” freshman Matt O’Boyle said, referring to Gershman, who had 18 points and 14 rebounds in the game to help his team emerge victorious.
As for Smith, the team hasn’t lost since he has joined the team in December. Watching from the sidelines early on in the season was extremely hard on him, but he has said he used it as a learning experience and will not take the game for granted again.
Smith lead the Aztecs in scoring with 27 points and also added seven assists. Freshman guard Andres Marquez finished with 13 points, going 11-14 from the free throw line.
“A year ago, we would’ve lost this game, but this Aztec team knows how to fight,” Peabody said.
The early success hasn’t changed the team’s focus on the big picture.
“Our goal is to go to the national tournament. That’s still our goal, we haven’t done anything yet,” Peabody said.
By JAIME HERNANDEZ
The Pima Community College’s men’s basketball team improved its record to 7-7 with a dominating 119-98 win over Midland College in the Pima Men’s Basketball Invitational on Dec. 30.
The Aztecs finished the tournament 3-0 and have already matched last season’s win total.
Pima was led to victory by the powerful duo of sophomore Shakir Smith and freshman Murphy Gershman.
Smith finished the game with 35 points and seven assists, while Gershman finished with 10 points.
Coach Brian Peabody’s team is finally starting to take form with the addition of Smith.
“I was very pleased where we are right now. With Shakir, we are a different team, and are much improved on the defensive end of the court,” Peabody said.
Peabody feels with hard work and continued improvement on the defensive side of the floor, the skies are the limit for this team.
PCC defeated the Soldierz club team 103-92 in the second day of the Invitational on Dec. 29.
For the second time in the tournament, Smith led the way in scoring with his 36 point performance. He also finished the game with seven assists.
Gershman continued to do what he has done all season by turning in another solid performance, finishing with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Freshman Matt O’Boyle also had a strong outing, scoring 18 points in the game.
PCC destroyed Westwind Prep Academy 117-81 on the first day of the tourney on Dec. 28.
Pima was led by Smith and Gershman, who finished the game with 26 points apiece.
Leading 26-21 in the first half, the Aztecs blew the game open with a 19-0 run during a six-minute span.
Freshman Bryan Cervantes finished the game with 16 points and nine rebounds.
By Jaime Hernandez
Pima Community College women’s basketball team dominated Western Texas College 73-49 in the final day of the Bruce Fleck Classic tournament held Dec 16-18 at West Campus.
The Aztecs finished the tournament 2-1, improving their season record to 8-7.
Freshman Jayla Brown led the way for Pima, finishing with 17 points off the bench. Brown was a perfect 6-6 from the field, including five from beyond the arc.
Freshman Alicia Jones finished the tournament with another strong performance, racking up 15 points and eight rebounds against Western Texas.
The Aztecs began the tournament by defeating Gillette College 65-64 on the first day of the Classic.
The game was tied at 64 apiece going into the final seconds when sophomore Raja Moreno-Ross was fouled going up for a shot.
She missed the first free throw, but nailed her second foul shot to give the Aztecs a one-point lead and seal the victory.
The game was a game of runs. Gillette went on a run early in the second half to take a 41-35 lead in the second half. Then the Aztecs came storming back.
Ross finished the game with 12 points and 15 rebounds. The Aztecs were also led by freshman Alicia Jones, who finished with a game-high 21 points.
PCC woman’s basketball team fell to Quest Prep 77-76 in the second day of the tournament on Dec 17.
The Aztecs found themselves in a nail-biter for the second night in a row. This time, however, they were on the losing end after a tough battle.
It appeared as though Jones she had won the game for Pima when she hit the go-ahead shot with 10.8 seconds left in on the clock, but that wasn’t the case.
A Quest player hit a runner from the foul line as time expired to steal the game from the Aztecs. The game featured 18 lead changes and 17 ties before the final horn sounded.
Jones once again led the way for Pima with 16 points, while sophomore Felicia Foster chipped in with 12.
By BETO HOYOS
Basketball runs in the family of Pima Community College sophomore Holly Bolen. Her grandfather, Rudy Castro, played college basketball and baseball at the University of Arizona.
Bolen was introduced to basketball as a child.
“I started playing ball when I was 8 in the National Youth Sports league, and since then I’ve been in love with the game,” she said.
Bolen also participated in volleyball at Tucson Magnet High School but her talents blossomed in basketball.
After graduation, Bolen took her skills to Thatcher, Ariz., and played basketball at Eastern Arizona College. She spent a year as a Gila Monster before becoming a PCC Aztec in 2012.
“Holly is one of the best shooters I’ve ever had,” head coach Todd Holthaus said.
Bolen’s versatility makes her a go-to weapon the Aztecs like to utilize. The 6-foot-1-inch forward holds her own on both offense and defense.
“I’m a mutt,” Bolen said. “I play down low when needed but can also be a guard. I play any position that’ll benefit the team.”
Holthaus admires Bolen’s laid-back demeanor and quick wit.
“She’s very loose and is just a great teammate with a great personality,” he said.
Bolen’s only flaw is that she can be a little too mellow on the court.
“That’s something we’re working on,” Holthaus said. “Once you’re on the court, it’s OK to be a little nasty and more intense. It’s hard for someone who’s laid back to turn on the switch, but she gets better at it every game.”
Bolen originally hoped to major in athletic training, but class times didn’t mesh with her basketball schedule.
“I wanted to help young athletes, but the time for that and basketball didn’t match up,” she said.
Bolen is still deciding on a new major, and has considered becoming a paramedic, firefighter or nurse.
Whichever field she chooses, it will involve working with people.
“I love helping others, old, young, it really doesn’t matter,” she said.