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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)


MEN’S BASKETBALL: Peabody changes team culture


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.”


ATHLETIC VOICE: March brings the Madness


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.

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Team prepares for March 4 playoff push

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Team prepares for March 4 playoff push


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.

Pg13-Women's basketball-Raja Moreno-Ross

MEN'S BASKETBALL: Aztecs lose in first round of playoffs

MEN’S BASKETBALL: Aztecs lose in first round of playoffs


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.

Pg13-Men's basketball

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Aztecs win two straight

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Aztecs win two straight


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.


Pg13-Women basketball-Rachel Williams

Sophomore Rachel Williams fights through Scottsdale Community College defenders in a Feb. 1 game. (Larry Gaurano/Aztec Press)