By NICHOLAS TRUJILLO
The No. 2 Pima Community College women’s basketball team (23-8, 16-6 conference) closed out their season on an early note after losing to No. 1 Mesa CC Thunderbirds.
Last season, the Aztecs overcame the Thunderbirds and made their way to third place in the NJCAA championship tournament. Last season, the Aztecs were also the No. 1 seed and Mesa was the No. 2 seed.
PCC played catch up for most of the game but didn’t rally in the second half.
March 7: PCC 86, Scottsdale CC 76
The Aztecs began play with an eightpoint deficit against the Artichokes. A shot from sophomore Sydni Stallworth relieved the playoff tension.
The first quarter ended with a 19-19 draw.
The second quarter saw freshman Izzy Spruit shoot four-for-four beyond the arc to give the Aztecs a double-digit lead that turned into a 52-38 lead at halftime.
After the break, the Artichokes came out of the locker room with a spark and outscored the Aztecs 23-17 in the third quarter.
The Aztecs responded with an 11-1 run in the fourth to secure their double-digit lead.
“Anytime you can win a playoff game you should always be excited,” head coach Todd Holthaus said. “No matter what happens in the regular season, the post season is always tough.”
Stallworth lead the Aztecs with 31 points, while Spruit had 12 points. Sophomore Erin Peterson finished with six points and a team high of nine rebounds.
“We had some rocky moments, we got too much in our frustrations when our shots weren’t falling,” Stallworth said.
March 11: PCC 72, Mesa CC 74
After charging to the championships for Region I Division II, the Aztecs faced defeat against the Thunderbirds.
After tip off, Mesa went on a 17-2 run to put themselves above PCC by 21-10.
The lead increased by halftime when the Thunderbirds outscored the Aztecs 46-29.
In the third quarter, the Aztecs were on fire going on a 16-6 run to cut the lead down to 60-52. Freshman Alliyah Bryant contributed a couple of threes, while Stallworth shot six-for-six from the free-throw line.
The fourth quarter saw sophomore Moana Hala’ufia hit a pair of free throws. A forced turnover lead to Smith hitting a three and Stallworth scoring off an offensive rebound.
The Aztecs made their way to a 72-70 lead, their first of the game, with 2:05 left.
Pima fouled Mesa with 3.7 seconds remaining, and Mesa hit just the first of the two free throws. Stallworth grabbed the missed shot, and was immediately guarded by three Mesa defenders.
Stallworth tossed the ball to Bryant, who passed the ball to Smith.
Smith found Hala’ufia for an open shot but the ball missed as the buzzer sounded, leaving Mesa the Region I Division II champion.
Stallworth finished with a game-high 22 points, while sophomore Bree Cates contributed 15 points.
“We had a tough game, we played hard but lost by two,” Stallworth said. “Second half we really came to play but they had a little bit more momentum than we did.”
In nine years, this is the eighth time Mesa and PCC have met in the finals. Each time, the home team has won.
This season marked the sixth season of 20-plus wins for Holthaus in his 10 years at Pima.
With the season over, NJCAA All-American Stallworth will move to Alaska to play for University of Alaska Anchorage, an NCAA Division I school.
Photo by Nicholas Trujillo
Sophomore Sydni Stallworth passes in the ball to her teammates against No.3 Scottsdale CC, during the NJCAA playoff game on March 7
By CASEY MUSE JR.
Sophomore big man Deion James has sparked the Pima Community College men’s basketball program this season with both his play on the court and his swagger off it.
No, not his “swag.” Swagger in the sense that James keeps things professional while remaining approachable and light-hearted.
The kid carries himself in a way that is unique but respectful. His personality and demeanor reflect those who raised him.
“My dad has been my biggest influence,” James said. “He has always been a coach on the sideline and throughout life. He has helped me a lot, not only in the game of basketball but in life as well.”
James developed an ealry love for basketball.
“I got my first basketball for Christmas when I was like 3 years old,” he said. “I carried it with me everywhere.”
A year later, James played his first competitive game. “At the age of 4, my dad put me in my first YMCA league,” he said. “I was a goofy kid who was just running around trying to play defense and steal the ball the whole time.”
James grew up in Vail and received his first opportunity to be a student-athlete at Rincon-Vista Middle School. “My middle school years really served as a transition into my high school years,” he said.
“My middle school coach ended up being my high school coach. I also knew a majority of my teammates from playing with them in middle school.”
The seamless transition helped James make the varsity team his freshman year at Empire High School.
“I actually played a good amount of time my freshman year,” he said. “I think I even started a couple games.” James became the face of the basketball program at Empire, which enjoyed a good reputation for academics and technology but had never really been known for its athletics.
“It was exciting for me to say that I helped a team and school achieve so many goals like that,” he said. “During my time there, the students were a lot more involved. The environment and energy were always great.”
James also helped Empire establish a respectful but heated cross-town rivalry with Cienega High School.
“All of us have bought into
what coach says, and that’s what
makes … us a family.” Teammate Jacob Anastasi
“All of the Vail kids grew up together,” he said. “We were the little brother of Vail and Cienega was the big brother. They had been there before and established their athletics programs while we were still new to being so relevant.”
The rivalry culminated during his senior year. “The two games we played against them were probably the two biggest basketball games ever played in Vail,” he said. “It was really great for the community.”
By graduation, James had become one of Tucson’s most sought-after Class of 2015 prospects. He commited to play basketball at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“That was a good experience overall,” he said. “No complaints.”
However, James left North Carolina A&T after his freshman season. “I just knew that to be the player I wanted to be, I had a better chance somewhere else,” he said.
PCC head coach Brian Peabody recruited James right away, and James accepted Peabody’s offer.
“I had a few options at that time but I really felt like he could help me the most and our team here had the best opportunity to win,” James said. “It was also great to come back home and be so close to my family again,” he said. “Everyone on the team was really cool and inviting to me as well.”
Teammate Jacob Anastasi called James a great player. “It’s nice having him out there because you know that he’s going to go grab 10 rebounds,” Anastasi said. “All of us have bought into what coach says and that’s what makes a program, that’s what makes us a family.”
James has proven to be an absolute monster at the community college level. He took on a leadership role early, and has averaged 20.5 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. He also has a knack for picking up double-doubles, posting a team-high 17 double-doubles.
“It just comes to me,” he said. “It helps me to get into the flow of the game when I am active, crashing the glass and getting put-backs.”
By CASEY MUSE JR.
The Pima Community College men’s basketball team will be the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Region I, Division II tournament.
PCC will host No. 3 seed Glendale Com munity College on March 8. During their final five games of the sea son, Pima won two games and lost three.
Feb. 15: PCC 110, Cochise 102
The Aztecs earned one of their best wins of the season at home against Cochise College. The game was back and forth to start until Pima took charge halfway through the first half. A 7-0 run gave the Aztecs their first double-digit lead of the game at 32-21 with just over eight minutes left in the half.
PCC strengthened its lead to as much as 14 before settling for a 50-39 halftime lead. Cochise did all it could to close the gap in the second half and came as close as a seven-point deficit but it was never enough.
Sophomore Emilio Acedo had another good game as he tied for the team high in scoring with 26 points. He shot 4-for-7 from the 3-point line. Freshman Isiah Murphy had one of his best games of the year as he also scored 26 points. He shot 10-for-12 from the free throw line in the process.
Sophomore Damon Dubots contributed 19 points and seven rebounds. Fellow sophomore Deion James secured his 15th double-double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds. The result meant a split in the season head to head with Cochise.
The Aztecs fell 96-83 to the Apaches in Douglas in January. The win also meant Pima had won seven of its last eight games.
Feb. 18: PCC 67, Phoenix College 72
The Aztecs fell in a close game on the road against Phoenix College. The No. 20 Aztecs and No. 11 Bears went back and forth for the entire game. The first half produced nine lead changes and seven ties as the teams went in to halftime tied at 32.
The Aztecs came out strong in the second half, using an 8-0 run with about 12 minutes left in the game to take a 52-46 advantage.
Pima couldn’t maintain, however, and Phoenix College reclaimed the lead with just over five minutes left.
The Aztecs managed to tie the game two more times but could never take back the lead.
Acedo led the way with 20 points. He shot 3-for-6 from the 3-point line. James earned his 16th double-double on the year with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Dubots added 11 points.
Feb. 22: PCC 84, Central Arizona 79
Pima earned a close victory at home against Central Arizona College. The first half was closely contested and the teams entered halftime tied at 33-33. The Aztecs played a strong second half
but Central Arizona was able to keep things close.
Up two points with 27 seconds left, Acedo iced the game on a clutch 3-point shot. James scored a team-high 20 points to go along with eight rebounds. Acedo finished the game with 13 points
and seven rebounds.
Pima also earned 34 bench points. The win earned head coach Brian Peabody the most wins he has ever had in a season at Pima, with 19. The win also offered revenge for a 103-97 loss the Aztecs took from Central Arizona in January.
Feb. 25: PCC 93, Mesa 94
The Aztecs played such a close game on the road against Mesa that regulation just was not enough.
Pima had a hot start to the game and broke out to an early 23-16 lead. The lead grew to as many as nine points but Mesa came back to regain the lead by halftime. Pima entered the second half down 41-40.
Mesa was in control for most of the second half until a late Aztec run forced overtime. Mesa owned the overtime period and scored the game’s final five points to win it. James earned his 17th double-double of the season with 27 points and 11 rebounds. Three other players scored 17 points
Mesa earned its revenge as Pima defeated the Thunderbirds 115-78 at home in January.
Feb. 28: PCC 71, Arizona Western 98
It was a rough night for the Aztecs in their final home game of the season. Pima fell behind early to Division I opponent Arizona Western and could never chip their way back into it. James scored a team-high 15 points, while Acedo contributed 14 points.
All of the sophomores were honored during halftime.
By NICHOLAS TRUJILLO
The Pima Community College women’s basketball team is currently averaging 83.2 points per game, an improvement from the previous seasons 72.6 points per game average.
The Aztecs have also improved their three-point accuracy, hitting 30.7 percent as opposed to 21.9 percent last season. Their overall field goal percentage has also seen a bump, an 8.3% percent increase from last season.
“We are right where we want to be, coming down the stretch in a good position,” head coach Todd Holthaus said. “In my ten years, this is probably the best offensive team I’ve ever had.”
Feb. 4: PCC 87, Eastern Arizona 92
After maintaining a slight lead for three quarters, the Aztecs ended up with a loss against the Gila Monsters.
Pima held a seven-point lead going into the fourth quarter. Then Eastern Arizona outscored PCC 31-19 in the fourth. The Gila Monsters out rebounded the Aztecs, 51-36, and shot 25 for 30 at the free throw line.
Sophomore Denesia Smith, lead the team with 21 points, four rebounds and four assists. Fellow sophomore Sydni Stallworth had 18 points, five rebounds and two assists.
Feb. 8: PCC 83, South Mountain 53
After their second loss to Eastern Arizona, the Aztecs bounced back and beat the South Mountain Cougars.
PCC started out the second half with a 17-point lead and steamrolled it into a 30-point lead by the end of the game.
Stallworth led her team with 27 points and shot 62 percent from the field. Freshman Alliyah Bryant had 13 points, hitting half of her shots.
The win allowed for a sweep of the Cougars, with the Aztec’s having defeated South Mountain 68-54 earlier in the season.
Feb. 11: PCC 71, Scottsdale 58
The Aztecs took the win against the Artichokes after sophomore Bree Cates dropped 24 points.
The game began as a neck and neck affair, until the fourth quarter. The Aztecs stretched their lead to double digits in the fourth, and closed out the game with a 13-point lead.
Cates also shot for 44 percent and had six rebounds. Stallworth finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
“We got a tough part of our schedule coming up leading into playoffs,” Holthaus said. “That’ll be the focus leading into playoffs, tighten up the defence. Knowing that the old cliché ‘defense wins championships’ is true.”
Feb. 15: PCC vs. Cochise
The game took place after the Aztec Press went to press.
Feb. 18: at Phoenix College, 2p.m.
Feb. 22: Cetral Arizona, West Campus, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 25: at Mesa CC, 2p.m.
Feb. 28: Arizona Western, West Campus, 5:30 p.m.
By CASEY MUSE JR
The Pima Community College men’s basketball team rode a six-game winning streak during winter break.
The team suffered its first loss during a road contest with Cochise College on Jan. 7, and then dropped three straight games from there. The Aztecs’ second-half performances were their downfall.
With school back in session, the team looked to get back on track and find a way to play a complete game.
Jan. 14: PCC 97, Central Arizona College 103
PCC dropped it third straight game against Central Arizona College on the road.
The Aztecs were in control in the first half, leading by as much as 11. They took a 46-41 lead into halftime but could not maintain their good performance in the second half. Pima was outscored 62-51 and lost the game 103-97.
Sophomore Zach Evans led the team with 27 points and freshman Isaiah Murphy scored 15 points.
“It is important for us to get our guys playing well and for them to see the ball go through the hoop,” Evans said after the game. “Hopefully we can bring more energy the next game and to the rest of the season.”
Jan. 18: PCC 115, Mesa CC 78
The Aztecs got back to winning in a home conference game against Mesa Community College. Pima dominated the entire game, and never trailed.
Sophomore Emilio Acedo made eight 3-pointers to score a team-high 26 points. Fellow sophomore Jacob Anastasi added 23 points.
Sophomore Deion James had his 10th double-double of the season with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Evans also had a double-double, with 12 points and 11 assists.
“This was a really important win for us getting back on track,” Evans said. “Deion had a huge game tonight.”
Jan. 21: PCC 97, Arizona Western College 101
Pima made it close at the end but was not able to overcome a double-digit deficit against Arizona Western College in Yuma.
The Aztecs were down 94-80 with 1:46 left in the game, and then Acedo began making threes. Pima cut the lead to 4 points with 7.8 seconds left but the Matadors made their free throws and sealed the game.
Acedo finished with 22 points and six rebounds. Anastasi scored 22 points and James added another double-double to his resume with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Jan. 25: PCC 96, Tohono O’odham CC 91
Pima returned to winning ways in a road game against Tohono O’odham. It was a satisfying piece of revenge for the Aztecs, who fell to Tohono O’odham 85-82 at home in November.
The game was close throughout, and Pima found itself trailing at the half. PCC used a strong second half to close things out, outscoring the Jegos 54-43 in the period.
James led the way with 16 points. Freshman Alize Travis was huge off the bench with 13 points on 3-for-5 shooting from 3-point range as well as 4-for-4 shooting from the free throw line.
Jan. 28: PCC 98, Chandler-Gilbert CC 87
The Aztecs won their second game in a row at home against Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Pima was in control throughout the game and led by as many as 17 points in the second half.
James earned his 12th double-double of the season, finishing with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Anastasi added 24 points and seven rebounds.
“We have a very talented and unselfish team that’s willing to make the extra pass,” Anastasi said. “It’s about taking what the defense gives you. We trust each other and we all have our roles and know them and that’s vital to the team’s success.”
Murphy was the leading scorer off of the bench with 23 points. Acedo rounded out the double-digit scoring with 11 points.
Feb. 1: PCC 87 Glendale 94
The Aztecs dropped a conference game on the road against Glendale Community College.
Pima played a good first half and took a 49-45 lead into the break.
Unfortunately, the team dealt with foul trouble during the second half as sophomore Deion James resisted picking up his fifth and final foul during the final stretch. James was still able to score a team high 25 points despite being on the verge of disqualification. Freshman Isaiah Murphy contributed 16 points and sophomore Damon Dubots added 15 of his own.
The result meant a season split with the Gauchos, PCC took a previous meeting at home 108-96 in December.
Feb 4: at Eastern Arizona College, Thatcher, 7:30 p.m.
Feb 8: South Mountain CC, West Campus, 7:30 p.m.
Feb 11: at Scottsdale CC, 5 p.m.
Feb 15: Cochise College, West Campus, 7:30 p.m.
By NICHOLAS TRUJILLO
The Pima Community College women’s basketball team (8-2, 3-1 in ACCAC) lost just one game in November, and hopes to continue that momentum.
“The month of November was about as good as it could go, outside of the game against New Mexico Junior College,” head women’s basketball coach Todd Holthaus said. “I guess so far, so good.”
Sophomore Sydni Stallworth earned ACCAC Division II player of the week honors on Nov. 28. She averaged 13.6 point, 3.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals in the first seven games.
Nov. 22: PCC 88, Tohono O’odham CC 51
The Aztecs opened the first quarter with a double-digit lead and continued scoring unanswered points for an 88-51 home conference win over Tohono O’odham Community College.
Pima started the game with a 9-0 run, which led to a 21-7 lead after the first quarter. An 11-0 run in the second quarter put the Aztecs up 32-7. After half time, the team went on a 12-0 run for a 65-27 lead in the third quarter.
Stallworth lead the team with 19 points, going for 57 percent beyond the arc. Freshman Katey Roquemore and sophomore Bailey Johnson each scored 10 points off the bench. The team outrebounded TOCC, 54-29.
Nov. 30: PCC 104, Chandler-Gilbert CC 34
The Aztecs closed out November with their sixth straight win, defeating Chandler-Gilbert Community College by a 70-point margin. PCC did not let the Coyotes score double digits in any quarter except the third.
“It was a little rough in the beginning, we were kind of anxious for no reason,” sophomore Denesia Smith said. “After the first five minutes of the first quarter, we started to relax and play our game.”
Smith finished with a team-high 20 points, plus five assists and five steals. Chandler-Gilbert transfer Bree Cates scored 14 points against her old team.
Dec. 3: PCC 74, Glendale CC 51
Pima started December with its seventh straight win, defeating the Glendale Community College Gauchos in a 74-51 home victory.
The team wasted no time in the first half to take a 50-36 lead into the break. The Gauchos responded with an 11-3 run that trickled into the beginning minutes of the fourth quarter, but a 21-4 run by Stallworth and freshman Alliyah Bryant sealed the game.
Smith finished with 19 points, seven steals and three assists. Stallworth and Cates both scored 14 points.
Dec. 7: PCC 86, Eastern Arizona College 88
Eastern Arizona College was the conference champ last year, defeating PCC by five points in the championship game.
This year was an even closer match up as the Aztecs lost by two points, 88-86, in overtime.
The game was a back-and-forth battle between the Gila Monsters and the Aztecs. PCC found a lead in the third quarter but was overtaken by a 14-4 run in the fourth.
PCC freshman Izzy Spruit sunk a three-pointer with 12 seconds left to tie the game 76-76 and force overtime, where the Aztecs ultimately met their loss.
Stallworth finished as the top scorer with 21 points, while Spruit and Cates were next with 15 points each.
Dec 10: at South Mountain CC, Phoenix, 2 p.m.
Dec. 28: Dawson CC at Bruce Fleck Classic, West Campus gym, 7 p.m.
Dec. 30: Arizona Christian University JV at Bruce Fleck Classic, West Campus gym, 5 p.m.
By NICHOLAS TRUJILLO
The power to overcome and defy odds. The power to push yourself past limits to a place you never imagined. The power you get from the fire within you.
Sophomore guard Denesia Smith has hardened her will through life experiences, but she doesn’t let them hold back her smile.
“Everyone has their own battles and struggles, so I’m not going to sit here and carp on mine, because there’s someone else who is in a worse condition than me,” she said.
Smith fell on her hip before the current season. She now has misaligned hips, which causes back, hip and lower leg pain during her normal day. On the pain scale, she rates hers at a constant five or six out of 10.
“It was a small little pop and I couldn’t walk,” she said. “Since then, my left side has been locking up, and it’s ‘out aligned.’”
Smith spent her childhood in Houston living in a house with more than 10 residents.
“We all grew up more or less raised as brothers and sisters,” she said. “If one of us didn’t have food, clothing or a drink, then nobody else did. That was just kind of how we were brought up.”
There were days they went without food and it seemed normal to do so, Smith said.
“That was just the way life was,” Smith said. “It wasn’t until later that I realized, ‘hey, we kind of had it rough.’”
During her middle-school years, Smith’s family moved to Arizona after her mother got a new job in Sierra Vista.
Smith attended Buena High School and played on the varsity basketball team during her freshman to junior years. She averaged 10.4 points throughout her time with the Colts.
She spent her senior year at Cienega High School in Vail, where she totaled 258 points in her last high school season and shot a 47 percent field goal average.
The Bobcats made it to the state championship but lost to Senton Catholic High School.
The showdown will forever live in Smith’s mind as the game they should’ve won. A Senton player who now plays alongside Smith at Pima made the winning layup.
“BS call,” Smith said. “It was the last three seconds. The girl on my team right now, Reazsha Benjamin, gets a steal and goes down court on a fast break. The buzzer sounds when she goes up and gets the ball in the hoop.”
Smith says she has footage to prove the game was over before the layup. Benjamin isn’t sure whether her shot beat the buzzer.
“It was hard to tell,” Benjamin said. “I don’t think I did, but because the crowd was so loud and the refs were distracted by everyone, I think it was so hard to say they just counted it.”
Smith is now a court leader for the No. 1 ranked Aztecs.
“Nesi is one of the best athletes I’ve coached here at Pima,” head coach Todd Holthaus said. “She’s does whatever she needs to do so she can be out on the court with her team.”
When she first joined the Pima team, Smith was forced to redshirt due to knee and meniscus problems.
In the year after redshirting, she averaged 37 percent shooting field goals and 63 percent on the free throw line.
With her bad hip this season, Smith currently averages 33 percent shooting three pointers and 45 percent shooting field goals.
Smith goes to a trainer daily to get her hip popped back into place, and to use techniques that PCC athletic trainer Chris Murphy shows her to relieve pain.
“He’s gotta pop my hip back into place and get them re-aligned,” Smith said. “Murph gets it to where the pain is tolerable.”
However well she does in basketball, Smith hopes to find a career in something related to helping others.
“I just want to give and help people, you know,” she said. “In whatever form that may be ― counseling, psychiatry, being a teacher.”
Smith is attracted to the idea of working with children in fourth grade, because she sees how her little sister’s mind is growing.
“She’s still innocent and pure but I see the way she’s starting to learn and put things together,” Smith said. “I just love that whole process.”
She shows the same passion for life.
“You just gotta do what you gotta do and tough it out, you know?” Smith said. “It won’t be here forever. Take it day by day, and it’ll be OK.”
By CASEY MUSE JR
The Pima Community College men’s basketball team faced quality competition in preconference games that offered opportunities for the Aztecs to test themselves before conference play began Nov. 22.
The first conference game, against Tohono O’Odham Community College, took place after Aztec Press went to the printer.
Nov. 9: PCC 133, Arizona Christian JV 87
The Aztecs got off to a hot start in a 133-87 home win against Arizona Christian University’s JV team.
Pima opened with a 20-4 run and took a 65-45 lead into the halftime break. Another 17-0 run at the end of the third quarter put the game away.
Sophomores led the way, with Damon Dubots scoring 27 points and seven rebounds. Emilio Acedo knocked down four 3-pointers on his way to a 21-point, seven-rebound game and Jacob Anastasi recorded a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Nov. 13: PCC 92, Utah State-Eastern 90
Pima faced its first true test of the season and came away with a 92-90 victory over Utah State University-Eastern.
The Aztecs and Eagles battled to a 46-46 halftime tie. Pima took a double-digit lead in the third quarter but surrendered a big run in the fourth to keep the game tight until the end.
Defense won the day as the Aztecs hit a pair of key three pointers and made key stops to obtain the victory.
Acedo led the way with 24 points, shooting 6 for 12 from the three-point line.
Nov. 17: PCC 86, New Mexico JC 99
PCC suffered its first loss of the season in a 99-86 contest against Division I New Mexico JC on the first day of the Native American Classic.
The Aztecs kept it close in the first half, going into the break down three points.
Sophomore Deion James gave Pima the lead on a technical foul free throw with 18 minutes left. New Mexico then went on an 11-0 run to take a double digit lead and control of the game. The Aztecs cut into the lead slightly but were never able to complete a comeback.
James finished the game with a double-double, 25 points and 10 rebounds. Acedo had a solid game as well scoring 19 points.
Nov. 18: PCC 95, Salt Lake CC 102
The Aztecs showed heart in their 102-95 loss to last season’s NJCAA Division I national champion, Salt Lake Community College.
Pima fell behind 56-36 at halftime but went on a 19-4 run halfway through the second half to claw their way back into the game.
Acedo and Freshman Isaiah Murphy were key during the comeback run.
The Aztecs got as close as one point but were never able to overtake the lead. Murphy finished the game with 28 points.
Nov. 19: PCC 120, Pascua Yaqui 113
Pima won a shootout against Pascua Yaqui 120-113 on the final day of the Native American Classic.
The Aztecs took a 59-47 lead into the halftime break. They would lead by as much as 21 points but allowed a late barrage from Pascua Yaqui that cut into the lead.
Sophomore Dakota Kordsiemon led the team with 26 points. Freshman Ilunga Moise had a double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
Freshman Alize Travis contributed 24 points, and sophomore Zach Evans finished with 21 points as well.
“All of our players weren’t even able to play tonight.” Evans said after the game. “If we all play and play together, I believe that we are good enough to make nationals.”
Nov. 30: at Chandler-Gilbert CC, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 3: Glendale CC, West Campus gym, 4 p.m.
Dec. 7: Eastern Arizona College, West Campus gym, 7:30 p.m.
By NICHOLAS TRUJILLO
The No. 1 Pima Community College women’s basketball team started the season 6-1. The Aztecs played in two pre-conference tournaments: the New Mexico Junior College Thunderbird Classic in Hobbs, New Mexico, and the Native American Classic at PCC. They opened conference play Nov. 22 with a win.
Head coach Todd Holthaus earned his 200th Pima win on Nov. 17.
“I’ve been privileged to coach people and alongside those I hold dear,” Holthaus said in a press release. “I’m very fortunate to do what I do.”
The Aztecs also avenged last season’s national semifinal loss to Illinois Central College in a rematch on Nov. 19.
Nov. 3: PCC 71, Western Texas College 64
The Aztecs’ first ‘W’ came at the Thunderbird Classic against a Division I team, Western Texas. Pima held the lead from the first minutes of the game.
Pima shot 43 percent from the field. Sophomore Bree Cates led the team with 13 points.
Nov. 4: PCC 54, New Mexico JC 79
Pima lost to the host school on the second day of the Classic. The Aztecs never held a lead and shot 6-for-28 from three-point range.
Sophomore Sydni Stallworth led the team with 12 points. She also had two rebounds and two assists.
Nov. 5: PCC 62, Howard College 56
PCC closed out the Thunderbird Classic with a win against Division I Howard College from Texas.
The Aztecs were behind by three points to begin the third quarter but went on a 13-0 run to turn their deficit into a double-digit lead.
Nov. 17: PCC 80, Gillette College 52
The first game in the Native American Classic saw Holthaus get his 200th Pima win. The Aztecs never let up pressure and finished the game with 18 offensive rebounds.
Sophomore Denesia Smith led the team with 15 points. Freshmen Izzy Spruit and Alliyah Bryant had three 3-pointers apiece. Spruit also had five steals.
Nov. 18: PCC 90, Elite 1 Academy 36
The Aztecs dominated, holding Elite 1 Academy to single-digit points in the second and third quarters.
Spruit hit five 3-pointers and finished the game with 17 points. Fellow freshman Reazsha Benjamin had 10 points. Stallworth finished with 16 points, five assists and four steals.
Nov. 19: PCC 96, Illinois Central College 73
After a tight first half, Pima outscored the No. 11 Cougars 34-16 in the third quarter and went on to win 96-73.
Pima lost 77-74 to Illinois Central in the NJCAA Division II tournament last March.
Cates finished with a game-high 26 points. She also had five rebounds and three steals.
Sophomore Erin Peterson had 16 points and four rebounds, while Stallworth contributed 16 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Smith had eight points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals, and fellow sophomore Moana Hala-ufia scored 14 points.
“This win was for last year’s graduates,” Holthaus told the team after the game.
Nov. 22: PCC 88, Tohono O’odham CC 51
After leaving the Native American Classic unscathed, the Aztecs defended their home court against Tohono O’odham Community College. PCC took control of the game early and never let up pressure.
Stallworth led the team with 19 points, and shot for 57 percent from the 3-point line. Spruit had 13 points, three steals and two assists in the game.
By CASEY MUSE JR
The Pima Community College men’s basketball team opened the season with two decisive non-conference victories, a 127-68 win over Vegas Impact and a 138-63 win over Three Kings Prep Academy from Windsor Ontario, Canada.
Pima was scheduled to play Arizona Christian Academy Nov. 9. The game took place after the Aztec Press went to the printer.
The Aztecs were in control for the entire Nov. 6 game against Vegas Impact. They started the game on a 23-0 run and took a 64-25 lead into the halftime break. The second half was more of the same, behind 52 points from the bench unit.
Six Aztecs scored double points. Sophomore Dakota Kordsiemon notched a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore Deion James lead the team in scoring with 23 points. Freshman Ilunga Moise was a factor off of the bench, with 19 points and nine rebounds.
The Aztecs also controlled the game against Three Kings Prep Academy, posting a 83-26 lead at the half.
Freshman Isaiah Murphy led the way with 22 points, shooting 10-of-13 from the field. Three other players had 17 points each.
Pima continues home play with games scheduled Nov. 13-22 at the West Campus gym.
The Aztecs return six players from last season’s team, including one redshirt.
Sophomore guard Keven Biggs returns to the team looking to embrace a new leadership role. Biggs averaged 10.1 points and 1.7 assists per game in a 2015 season that saw the Aztecs make their third consecutive appearance in the Region I, Division II playoffs.
He will look to improve upon those numbers and lead the backcourt unit this season along with fellow sophomore Zach Evans.
Also look for sophomore big man Justice Bessard to evolve into a team leader. Bessard stands 6 feet, 6 inches tall and averaged 8.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in 2015.
Head coach Brian Peabody will lead the team in his fourth season at Pima.
Peabody had more wins at the high school level (443) than any coach in Tucson history, and has worked each season to rebuild PCC’s program.
PCC had a 12-10 conference record in 2015, its best mark in 15 years. The Aztecs have not won an ACCAC championship since 1980.
Cochise College and Phoenix College tied for the best conference record last season at 16-6.
“It is all about execution this season,” assistant coach Joe Hickle said.
By STEVEN FOWLER
Pima Community College men’s basketball sophomore guard Yusuf Shehata has signed a national letter of intent to
continue his collegiate career at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, Calif.
Shehata anchored Pima’s offense to a 17-14 overall record this season, its best ACCAC conference record since 2000-01.
The Aztecs made their third straight Region I, Division II tournament appearance.
He was named third team All-ACCAC and second team All-Region I, Division II after starting in all 31 games. He
averaged 16.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while averaging 83.3 percent from the free throw line and
42.2 percent from the three-point range.
By Jason Weir
A season of honors for Pima Community College women’s basketball freshman point guard Sydni Stallworth continued
April 5 when she was selected first-team All-American.“It feels great to receive the award as a freshman,” Stallworth
said. “I want to thank my entire coaching staff and my teammates.”
Stallworth, the sixth PCC women’s basketball player to ever receive the honor, started all 36 games for the Aztecs on
their way to a record-tying 28-8 overall record. She was named ACCAC Player of the Week four times and NJCAA
Player of the Week once.
After helping lead the Aztecs to a third-place finish in the NJCAA Division II Tournament in March, she and teammate
sophomore Taylor Blue were named to the All-Tournament team.
“I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in today if it weren’t for my team pushing me,” Stallworth said.
By STEVEN FOWLER
The No. 3 Pima Community College men’s basketball team saw its season end March 2 after a 96-81 loss in the Region I, Division II semifinal game at No. 2 seeded South Mountain Community College.
It was the third consecutive year that the Aztecs were eliminated in the semifinal game.
South Mountain took an early nine-point lead in the first half, but the Aztecs came back on a 15-6 run to take a 35-30 lead. The game was tied at 38 a piece at halftime.
PCC trailed early in the second half 51-48, but went on a 10-0 run to take their biggest lead of the game with 11:19 remaining.
PCC was outscored 23-6 in the final 4:50 in the game. Sophomore Yusef Shehata made two free throws to give the Aztecs a 75-73 lead but the Cougars went on an 8-0 run and the Aztecs saw their slim lead slip out of grasp.
Shehata made three free throws that closed the gap to three points. Later, freshman Kwintin Williams’s basket put PCC within two points at 82-80.
The Cougars went on yet another 8-0 run that made it a 90-80 score with roughly a minute remaining. South Mountain scored the final six points in their win.
The Aztecs produced four players in double figures.
Shehata hit six 3-pointers and went on to score a team-high 23 points. Williams finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.
Sophomore Justice Martion had a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds while freshman Keven Biggs also scored 14 points.
The Aztecs finished the 2016 season at 17-14, their third straight season with 15 wins or more under head coach Brian Peabody. The Aztecs’ ACCAC conference record of 12-10 marked their best mark since the 2000-01 season.
PCC had three representatives selected to the All-ACCAC conference and All-Region I, Division II teams. Sophomores Yusuf Shehata, a guard and forward Justice Martion along with freshman forward Kwintin Williams were recognized for their contributions on the court during the game.
Williams was named second team All-ACCAC and first team All-Region, Division II. Martion was selected third team All-ACCAC and second team All-Region. Shehata was named third team All-ACCAC and second team All-Region I.
By JASON WEIR
The Pima Community College women’s basketball team (22-7, 16-5 in ACCAC) finished the regular season schedule and is ready for the Division II Playoffs.
The Aztecs went 1-2 since their Feb. 10 match up, losing the first two games.
The Aztecs rebounded from those losses with an impressive win against South Mountain Community College in their home finale.
Freshman Sydni Stallworth continued her impressive freshman campaign, leading the Aztecs in scoring in all three games.
Both freshman Denesia Smith and sophomore Gabby Banales put their injuries behind them as they each scored in double figures in the game against the Cougars.
The Aztecs hope to be at full strength for the regional playoffs starting March 1.
The Feb. 23 game at Scottsdale Community College took place after the Aztec Press went to print.
Pima honored its six sophomores, Shalise Fernander, Taylor Blue, Hayley Pryor, Samirah Miller, Kristin Baldwin and Banales, as they played their final regular-season home game on Feb. 20.
The Aztecs dominated the winless Cougars from start to finish.
After winning the first quarter 28-2, Pima finished the first half with a 40-13 lead.
Pima continued to play hard in the second half on their way to the 93-34 victory.
The win completed the Aztec’s season sweep over the Cougars.
Pima’s bench even extended playing time with the large lead and scored 48 points on their own.
Freshman Bailey Johnson led the bench in scoring with 11 points to make her one of four Aztecs to score in double digits in the game.
Stallworth continued to be the Aztecs leading scorer with 17 points to go with five steals.
Pima lost back-to-back games for the first time this season on Feb. 17 losing to Central Arizona College 88-76.
The Vaqueras came into the game riding an 11-game win streak.
After a close first half, the Vaqueras showed why they were meant to win their 12th game in a row when they had an 18-2 run early in the third quarter and outscored the Aztecs 29-12 in the quarter.
This loss came a month after the Aztecs won at Central Arizona for the first time since 1982.
Stallworth led the team with 21 points to go with four steals.
Both Fernander and Smith scored in double figures. Fernander grabbed 12 rebounds on her way to a double-double.
The No. 6 Aztecs lost a close game at Arizona Western College on Feb. 13.
The two teams battled back and forth all night.
After falling behind in the third period, the Aztecs went on an 11-0 run and took a 50-44 lead.
Stallworth and Banales each hit a three pointer during the run.
Pima held a five point lead with 2:10 left to play.
The Matadors held Pima scoreless the remainder of the game outscoring them 9-0 as they won 67-63.
Stallworth was the leading scorer for Pima with 19 points to go along with her 13 rebounds. Both Stallworth and Blue had double-doubles. Blue with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
March 1: at Region I, Division II Playoffs (semifinals), TBA
March 3: at Region I, Division II Playoffs finals), TBA
By STEVEN FOWLER
The Pima Community College men’s basketball team (14-11, 9-8 in ACCAC) fell on the road at Cochise College 87-69 in Douglas on Feb. 6.
Down by two at 34-32 at halftime, the Aztecs were out-scored in the second half 53-37.
Sophomore Justice Martion led the Aztecs in scoring by contributing 22 points and had nine rebounds. Freshman Damon Dubots had a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds.
The Aztecs split the regular season series with the Apaches. Pima won the previous game 88-87 at the West Campus on Dec. 9.
On Feb. 3, PCC won a close 81-78 game against the Division I Eastern Arizona College at the West Campus
Down 76-75 with 2:03 remaining in the game, sophomore Yusef Shehata scored and later stole the ball under Eastern Arizona’s possession. Shehata soon found Freshman Kwintin Williams mid-court. Williams landed the basket by a one-handed dunk to put the Aztecs ahead 79-76. With the clock stopping at 1:17, the Gila Monsters called a timeout.
With less than a minute remaining, the Aztecs’ lead was trimmed to one. Following a missed shot by Shehata, the Gila Monsters were unable to capitalize after a defensive rebound by Williams. After Shehata was fouled, he made two free throws at the 10. 8 mark. Eastern Arizona attempted a three-point shot but with a defensive rebound again by Williams, the game was over.
In the second half, Pima’s biggest lead was six when it was 60-54. On a few occasions, Eastern Arizona took one-point leads. The Aztecs’ defense, however, stopped any momentum by the Gila Monsters.
Williams led the team with 25 points, eight rebounds while Martion finished with 20 points – eight straight to keep the Aztecs ahead in the second half. Shehata finished with 19 points.
In the Jan. 30 game, the Aztecs were unable to find the strides it needed in the second half against Glendale Community College
The Aztecs were unable to get things going after trailing most of the game and lost 83-75. After falling behind early in the game, Glendale went on a 12-1 run to open the game. Freshman Dakotah Kordsiemon scored Pima’s first field goal at the 11:06 mark. Later in the first half, the Aztecs went on a 10-0 run to tie the Gauchos at 18 and again at 20. The Gauchos went on a 6-0 run to take a slight lead. The Aztecs went into halftime trailing 35-30.
In the second half, the Aztecs trailed 46-41 but the Gauchos hit two consecutive three-pointers to take a double-digit lead at 52-41. Sophomore Cameron Volk made a successful shot and Shehata made a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 58-52 with 11:28 remaining – that’s how close the Aztecs would make it.
Williams scored a team-high 24 points along with 10 rebounds and two blocks. Kordsiemon came off the bench scoring 17 points and went 5-for-7 from the field. Martion finished with eight points and nine rebounds.
On Jan. 27, Pima Community College men’s basketball played in an exciting came that came down to the final seconds against Tohono O’odham Community College.
Shehata scored the game-winning shot with 0.2 seconds remaining as the Aztecs defeated Tohono O’odham 69-67 in Sells, AZ. The Aztecs swept the regular season series after defeating the Jegos 94-90 on Dec. 14 at the West Campus gym.
Martion finished with a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds while Williams contributed 15 points.
To read about Pima’s Feb. 10 game at Mesa Community College, visit aztecpressonline.com.
Following Pima’s away game at Mesa, the Aztecs continue their road series at Arizona Western College on Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 10: @MesaCC,7:30p.m.
Feb. 13: @ Arizona Western College, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 17 Central Arizona College, West Campus,
Feb. 20: South Mountain CC, West Campus, 4 p.m.
Feb. 23: @ Scottsdale CC,