By: KATELYN ROBERTS
As Pima Community College presses on, Aztecs made five more national qualifying marks between the men’s and women’s teams at the Aztec Indoor Invitational.
PCC hosted the tournament at West Campus.
Records were also broken during the Arizona Indoor Invitational, hosted by Glendale Community College.
Feb. 3-4: Aztec Indoor Invitational
At the second meet of the season, sophomore Hannah Bartz took first place and qualified for nationals when she broke a PCC record in the 60-meter dash with her 7.8 second time.
Bartz wasn’t done yet.
She set another qualifying time and broke a PCC record again with her time of 25.09 seconds in the 200-meter dash.
“It was a real surprise because I haven’t gotten a lot of block work,” Bartz said. “I’m really more of a long-jumper.”
Men’s competition had freshmen Victor Bustamante and Collin Dylia, and sophomores Alex Palacios, and David Fernandez making up the distance medley team.
The team set a national qualifying mark with a time of 10 minutes, 36.79 seconds.
Dylia set a national qualifier in the 1,000-meter race with his time of 2 minutes, 40.11 seconds.
Sophomore Treyshon Malone qualified in long jump and placed first at 23 feet, 2.5 inches.
Freshman Cam Duffy placed first with his 23 feet, 3.5 inches jump mark.
Sophomore Sam Shoultz earned first place in the high jump at 6 feet, 10.75 inches. Shoultz improved last meet’s mark by 2 inches.
Feb. 11: Arizona Indoor
PCC’s 60-meter dash record was broken at Glendale Community College’s Arizona Indoor Invitational on Feb. 11.
Sophomore Amber McCroskey’s time was 7.79 seconds and earned a national qualifier.
McCroskey’s time beat Bartz’s previous record of 7.8 seconds, by 0.01 seconds.
Freshman Tyra Yanez set her personal record in the 60-meter race with a time of 7.91 seconds, missing the national qualifying time of 7.85 seconds by 0.06 seconds.
In the men’s competition, sophomores Alen Leyva and Alex Palacios, and freshmen Isaiah Martin and Emmanuel Doe’s 4×400 relay team set a season record and earned a national qualifier with a time of 3 minutes, 19.88 seconds.
Taking first in the 60-meter hurdles, freshman Cornelius Payne Jr. finished with a time of 8.54 seconds, missing the national qualifying mark by 0.11 seconds.
Feb.17: NAU Tune-up, Flagstaff, begins at noon
By DAVID W. SKINNER
The Pima Community College golf teams took a swing in two opening invitational’s held in Mesa and Scottsdale.
Feb. 5-6: Mesa Invitational
The women’s team finished in second overall, with Desiree Hong tieing for first in.
The men’s team finished 10 strokes behind and placed sixth overall.
Feb. 13-14: Scottsdale
The Scottsdale Invitational saw Women’s golf take second place, for the second time in a row with.
Hong tied for second in individual standings. Sophomore Samantha Hacker took seventh.
Feb. 20-21: Scottsdale Community College Invitational, Sun City, 11 a.m. start time both days
Feb. 27-28: Estella Mountain Community College Invitational, Goodyear, 10 a.m. start time both days
By: Nicholas Trujillo
With a new coach at the helm for both Pima Community College tennis teams, Ian Esquer starts off his season 1-0, for the men’s and women’s teams.
Feb. 4: PCC 9, Imperial Valley 0
The men’s team earned a 9-0 sweep against Imperial Valley College. Fresman Francisco Sotelo swept his No. 4 singles match 6-0, 6-0.
Sophomores Jesus Lopez and Raj Singh Kaila also swept their opponents, No. 5 and No. 6 singles respectively, 6-0, 6-0.
In the doubles competition Sophomores Marc Avalos and Francisco Ton won their No. 1 doubles 6-1, 6-1.
Feb. 4: PCC 7, Imperial Valley 2
The Aztecs took their win against Imperial Valley, with a 7-2 take over.
In singles, freshman Elise Rodriguez defeated her No. 6 singles, 6-0, 61.
In doubles, Rodriguez and freshman Jayme Shafer swept their No. 3 doubles 8-0.
Feb. 20-21: Scottsdale CC, Invitational, Sun City, 11 a.m.
Feb. 27-28: Estella Mountain CC Invitational, Goodyear, 10 a.m.
By CASEY MUSE JR
The Pima Community College softball team eased into the season with some key wins at the beginning of conference play. The Aztecs are striving for consistency in their pitching as well as trying to keep their bats healthy.
Jan. 31: PCC 0, Arizona Western 6 / PCC 5, Arizona Western 4
The Aztecs were able to split in their conference opener on the road against Arizona Western College.
Pima was shutout in the first game as the team was unable to earn any runs off of their seven hits.
Freshman Edith Prieto went two-for-three from the plate but was unable to parlay anything into a score. Arizona Western scored three runs in the third inning and two more in the fifth to bust the game open.
Sophomore Baily Critchlow took the loss in the game as she pitched five innings. She finished with eight hits, two strikeouts and one walk.
The Aztecs fell behind in the second game 2-0, but finally found some offense in the fifth inning as sophomore Margarita Corona hit a two-run RBI single to give PCC a 3-2 lead. The Aztecs would strengthen their lead to 5-3 before the end of the inning.
Freshman pitcher Mandy Lorenson finished her complete game with a strikeout on the final batter as Arizona Western left the tying runner stranded on third. Lorenson finished with six hits, seven strikeouts and five walks.
Feb. 4: PCC 13, Glendale 1 / PCC 5, Glendale 4
Pima earned a sweep in a home doubleheader against Glendale Community College. The Aztecs dominated the first game early, scoring 11 runs in the first three innings.
Critchlow threw the three innings, and picked up a win giving up one hit and no runs. Pima was solid in all aspects as they finished with a 13-1 win.
The second game was much closer as it took a game winning RBI double from Corona to seal it. The Aztecs had another solid start in this game, scoring two runs in the first inning.
Glendale would battle back to obtain the lead and set things up for Corona’s heroic moment in the end.
Critchlow picked up another win in a relief effort. She gave up no hits and earned a strikeout in the final two innings. Freshman Mandy Lorenson started the game and finished with eight hits, four strikeouts and four walks.
Feb. 7: PCC 9, Mesa 5 / PCC 12, Mesa 5
The Aztecs picked up another big sweep on the road this, as Pima was sharp in this conference meeting at Mesa.
The offense was big during the mid-innings in the first game as Freshman Alyssa Smith hit an RBI double in the fifth inning and Sophomore Gabriela Trejo cracked a two-run home run in the sixth inning. Trejo finished the contest three-for-four two RBIs and two runs scored.
Critchlow earned the win after pitching a complete game, finishing with nine hits, four strikeouts, and two walks.
The Aztecs were able to take a big lead in the second game during the fifth inning. Pima was up 5-4 at this point in the game but scored seven runs in the fifth to put the game away.
Freshman Hannah Freer got the win in a relief appearance. She pitched the final three innings and ended with four hits, two strikeouts and one walk.
Feb. 11: PCC 4, Yavapai College 12 / PCC 2, Yavapai College 15
It was a tough day for the Aztecs at home against Yavapai College. PCC gave up a total of 27 runs between two games and were never able to get anything going.
Yavapai started the first game hot and never looked back. The roughriders were able to score two runs in five of the seven innings played.
Sophomore Courtney Brown provided a bright spot for the Aztecs as she hit a solo home run in the third inning. Brown finished the game 2 for 4 with two runs scored and an RBI.
Critchlow took the loss as she pitched two innings and gave up four runs. Critchlow finished with six hits, one strikeout, and two walks.
The second game did not go any better as Yavapai scored five runs in the first inning and another six runs in the fifth to finish the dominant performance.
Freshman Mandy Lorenson took the loss after pitching two-thirds of an inning giving up five runs on five walks.
Feb. 14: PCC 3, Gateway 5 / PCC 12, Gateway 0
Pima was able to split with Gateway Community College at home.
The Aztecs fell behind early in the first game and were never able to quite catch up in the end. Critchlow took the loss pitching a complete game with five earned runs, eight hits, four strikeouts and two walks.
The second game was much different as PCC was able to jump out to an early lead themselves scoring eight runs in the first inning. Gateway was not able to recover. Sophomore Luisa Silvain earned the win as she pitched the whole game with two hits, three strikeouts and two walks.
Feb. 18: Central Arizona College, West Campus, doubleheader 12 p.m. & 2 p.m.
Feb. 21: Eastern Arizona College, West Campus, doubleheader 1 p.m. & 3 p.m.
Feb. 25: Scottsdale CC, West Campus, doubleheader 12 p.m. & 2 p.m.
Feb. 28: @Chandler-Gilbert CC, Chandler, AZ, doubleheader 1 p.m. & 3 p.m.
By CASEY MUSE JR
The Pima Community College men’s basketball team has won five of their last six games and is finding consistency on both ends of the court as they inch closer to postseason play. The team is all about staying together and filling their roles.
Feb. 4: PCC 111, Eastern Arizona 100
The Aztecs were able to pick up a conference win in Thatcher against Eastern Arizona.
Both teams were hot on offense in the first half as the game was tied 55-55 at the break.
Pima was able to tighten up its defense just enough in the second half and the offense didn’t falter down the stretch for the 111-100 result.
Sophomore Emilio Acedo was on fire from three-point range, making eight, on his way to a team high 36 points.
Sophomore Deion James came up with 26 points and nine rebounds and fellow sophomore Damon Dubots scored 23 points. Freshman Isaiah Murphy added 16 points and seven rebounds off of the bench.
The Aztecs swept Eastern Arizona this season as they won a home meeting with the Gila Monsters 94-88 in December.
Feb. 8: PCC 121, South Mountain CC 92
Pima was able to play a dominant first half in a home contest against South Mountain.
South Mountain used a 26-9 run in the second half to close the gap to eight points. That was as close as it got as the Aztecs responded with a 22-10 run of their own regaining control for good.
James accumulated his 14th double-double of the season with a team high 29 points and 12 rebounds. Acedo had another big night scoring 28 points on seven three-point shots.
Murphy and Dubots each added 16 points. The result was another season sweep for Pima as they took the previous meeting in Phoenix, 116-84.
Feb. 11: PCC 76, Scottsdale CC 73
Pima had a strong second half to come back against Scottsdale Community College on the road. It was a low scoring game throughout, as the Aztecs struggled to find consistent offense in the first half. The result was a 41-35 deficit for PCC at the break.
Freshmen Ilunga Moise and Alize Travis provided a much needed spark off of the bench in the second half as they combined for 29 points. Moise earned a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds and Travis contributed 15 points and four assists.
“The style of play has been working well.” Travis said. “We like to get out and run and we have some guys who can fill it up so I’ve just been trying to put them in the best position to get easy shots.”
Murphy led the team in scoring with 18 points as well as nine rebounds.
The win tallied another season sweep for the Aztecs as they won their home meeting with the Artichokes 108-83 last month.
“We have been playing well as a unit over the last three games.” Travis explained. “Executing the game plan has been our focus and as the season is coming to an end we are looking forward to keeping the momentum but we still have a lot of work to do.”
Feb. 18: at Phoenix College, 4 p.m.
Feb. 22: Central Arizona, West Cmapus, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 25: at Mesa CC, 4p.m.
Feb. 28: Arizona Western, West Campus, 7:30 p.m.
By ELLIE BAYLY
Major League Soccer preseason has arrived. For soccer fans, the icing on the cake has been swirled to perfection.
Emerald-green grass smells sweet at the Kino Sports Complex north stadium and surrounding fields. Cleats click along concrete paths and thunder onto the pitch. Golf carts zoom from point A to point B with earnest intent.
The Kino expanse is home to FC Tucson, a semi-pro team. For a period stretching from Jan. 27 through Feb. 25, FC Tucson partners with Pima County and other entities to host spring training for about half of the professional MLS teams.
The Desert Friendlies, kicked off Jan. 27 and ended Feb. 4. Featured teams included the Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders FC and New York Red Bulls. Famous players included U.S. national team star Clint Dempsey.
The second period opens Feb. 18 and ends Feb. 25. Teams will include New York City FC and the Colorado Rapids.
As an intern at FC Tucson, I’m lucky to have a front seat for the spectacle. I gain insight into how a major preseason event comes into existence.
It’s a marvel to see how so many people work to make things happen. Imagine a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle, where each piece must clearly communicate with others to make things happen as they should.
Those constantly shifting parts?
Let me recount just a few: ticketing, media, sponsorship, marketing, grounds maintenance, staffing, visitors and setup.
We’re hosting guests for a 6-week-long major holiday, and these guests are so clever. Clever with a soccer ball. Clever at passing, trapping, angling, arcing and locating shots to a teammate while avoiding an opponent.
These thoughts run through my head every day I see them play.
Passion for the game of soccer is an intangible thing. Yet it is so brilliantly obvious when watching these players sprint in every direction.
You hear it in the pounding of their feet on the grass as they tear after a ball going down the sideline. You hear it in their gasping breaths as they run hard and fast until their muscles burn. You see it as they exert every ounce of cunning and strength to gain possession of the soccer ball.
As MLS preseason in Tucson continues, take a moment to appreciate the artistry of soccer. Its athletes put their skills on display every second of every game.
Now is the time to think about why so many love the sport as youths and why it has become so beloved with adult and professional leagues in the United States.
It is adored beyond imagination in other countries.
They’re here! Appreciate it. Embrace it.
MLS preseason at Kino Sports Complex, 2500 E. Ajo Way, continues with the Desert Diamond Cup:
Saturday, Feb. 18
- New England Revolution vs. Colorado Rapids, 1 p.m.
- New York Red Bulls vs. Sporting Kansas City, 3:30 p.m.
- New York City Football Club vs. Houston Dynamo, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 25
- 5th place team vs. 6th place team, 1 p.m.
- 3rd place team vs. 4th place team, 3:30 p.m.
- 1st place team vs. 2nd place team, 6 p.m.
General admission tickets cost $22 adults, $15.50 child. Reserved seating costs $27.
For more information and to buy tickets, visit fctucson.com.
By RENE ESCOBAR
The NBA Slam Dunk Contest, one of the greatest athletic competitions, will feature the best dunkers the league has to offer on Feb. 18 in New Orleans.
The dunk contest has showcased some of the most spectacular feats in sports, but which was the greatest ever?
We’re not talking one dunk but competition as a whole, from final contestants to star power.
Some defining moments will not be included in this debate. They include:
- 2009, when the little man, 5-foot-9-inch Nate Robinson, jumped over 6-foot-11-inch Dwight Howard.
- 2011’s car jump by Blake Griffin.
- Michael Jordan’s dunk from the free throw line in 1988.
- The no-look dunk by Dee Brown in 1991.
Only two contests come to mind: the ones in 2000 and 2016.
2000 featured the two best dunkers the NBA had to offer, cousins Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady. They dueled it out with flashy awe-inspiring dunks.
Carter assisted McGrady with a bounce into a windmill dunk.
Carter answered back with the game-changing dunk, his famous arm-through-the-hoop dunk that scored a perfect 50.
2000 propelled Carter to stardom. The dunks he displayed helped advance his reputation, and he’s now acknowledged as the greatest dunker in NBA history.
The 2000 contest made the NBA’s All-Star Weekend a must-watch, something that Jordan and Dominique Wilkins could not accomplish in 1987.
Last year’s contest featured a finals duel for the ages, showcasing Zach LaVine and the University of Arizona’s own Aaron Gordon.
The two traded perfect scores like heavyweight boxers trading haymakers.
Gordon rocked the rim with a middle-of-the-air sitting dunk over a mascot. LaVine shot back with a windmill from the free throw line.
LaVine made the deciding shot with a through-the-legs dunk.
The 2016 contest gets my vote for the best of all time. It did not have the star power of 2000, but the finale came down to one dunk. Drama was present, and the participants displayed amazing creativity.
This year’s contest has potential to become one of the greatest ever.
New names have lots to live up to, and must make the most of their opportunities to prove themselves in the Crescent City.
Which Slam Dunk Contest gets your vote for best ever? Comment down below!
By NICHOLAS TRUJILLO
Going to the ACCAC nationals will be as easy as showing up, for the women’s tennis team.
“The girls are excited because they’re going to play nationals for sure,” head coach Ian Esquer said.
The same can’t be said for the men’s team, as it will have to qualify in the top three at the regional competition.
Last season, the men’s tennis squad ended its run at the Region I championships. The women’s team ended with sophomore Noelle Karp losing in the No. 3 singles.
After coaches Brian Ramirez and Gretchen Schantz stepped down from their positions at season’s end, PCC hired former student Esquer to coach both teams.
Esquer played at the college from 2006-2008 and went to nationals both times. As coach, he hopes to bring out that same energy in his student-athletes.
“This year is going to be really interesting,” he said. “I got both teams with just four players last semester, and I thought it was going to be tough to fill up.”
He thinks his players will enjoy a good season.
“Both teams are improving a lot more since the semester started,” he said.
The number of players represent a major change since his time at PCC. In 2006, both teams had nine players. Esquer has six players on his teams now.
“It’s more even this time, compared to when I played,” he said. “You want a team that can play at the same level and at all positions and seeds.”
The women’s team will have its first game on Feb. 23 in Thatcher against Eastern Arizona College.
The men’s team begins play by hosting Mesa Community College on Feb. 28 at the West Campus tennis courts.
By KATELYN ROBERTS
Jan. 27-28: Paradise Valley Indoor Invitational
With their first meet out of the way, Pima Community College’s track and field returned from the Paradise Valley Indoor Invitational with two new records and six nations qualifying marks.
The women’s competition resulted in two new Pima records when freshman Rhiannon Bearup took third place in the 60-meter hurdles preliminary race with a 9.05 second time. Bearup’s time also set her qualifier.
Bearup, along with freshman Tyra Yanez and sophomores Melissa Cotsoas and Amber McCroskey, took third with another record of 4 minutes and 1.5 seconds in the 4×400 relay.
On breaking two records in her first meet of the season, Bearup said, “It was cool. It was a good feeling. [It] made me excited for the rest of the season.”
Bearup ran track all four years of high school and ran hurdles for one year.
This is her second year hurdling.
Sophomore Hannah Bartz took second in long jump, setting another national qualifier, with a mark of 18 feet and 8.5 inches.
Bartz also finished first in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7:88.
From the men’s team, sophomore Sam Shoultz took first in high jump, setting another national qualifier with a mark of 6 feet and 8.75 inches.
In the triple jump, freshman Cam Duffy took first place with a mark of 44 feet and 7.5 inches.
Duffy also competed in the long jump and took third place. He qualified with a mark of 23 feet and 1.25 inches.
Freshman Tony Chavez qualified in pole vault with a vault of 14 feet and 9 inches. earning fourth place.
Sophomore David Fernandez took first place in the 3,000-meter race with a time of 9 minutes and 14.53 seconds.
PCC will host the Aztec Indoor Invitational on Friday, Feb. 3 and Sat. Feb. 4 at PCC’s West Campus.
Events will begin at 10 a.m. on both days.
Feb. 3-4: Aztec Indoor Invitational, West Campus, begins 1 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday
Feb. 11: GCC/ACC Invitational, Glendale, 10 a.m.
By CASEY MUSE JR.
Donald J. Trump was officially sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Jan. 20.
As split as society may be, we must try to make the best of the situation and educate ourselves about our new commander in chief.
Sports have a knack for making anyone more relatable. Trump is actually very knowledgeable about many American sports and even participated at a young age.
He was a three-sport athlete at the New York Military Academy from 1959-1964, participating in baseball and football, and playing one season of varsity soccer. Rumor has it that Trump could have pursued a professional baseball career.
As a businessman in the 1980s, Trump facilitated two consecutive WrestleMania events in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Before long, he was regularly participating in WWE promotions and grew a significant fan base. Trump was stunned by Stone Cold Steve Austin himself, who was the biggest star in entertainment wrestling in the 2000s.
Trump was inducted into the celebrity section of the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.
He also owned the USFL football New Jersey Generals franchise in the mid-1980s, and spent loads of money to recruit Heisman trophy winners such as Herschel Walker and Doug Flutie.
Not surprisingly, Trump kept league media busy when he stirred up controversy.
The USFL was supposed to eventually overtake the NFL as the top football league in the country, which never happened. The league folded in 1986 and everyone involved, including Trump, was forced to move on.
Trump’s relationships with professional athletes made recent headlines during his presidential campaign. None was more prominent than his rapport with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
The two apparently exchange text messages often. Brady supposedly texted a lengthy congratulatory text shortly after Trump’s inauguration ceremony.
The friendship seems inevitable. Brady is a wealthy winner with an extremely competitive attitude. Sound familiar?
Despite all of these ties to various sports, Trump seems to hold golf most dear.
All-time golf great Tiger Woods and Trump made headlines in late 2016 after they were seen playing a few holes together at one of Trump’s Florida courses.
Trump’s name can be found on 17 golf properties around the world and it is well known that he plays often.
He should have no problems finding proper conditions to play in Washington D.C. during his term in office. Let’s just hope he finds some time to do some presidential work between rounds.
By CASEY MUSE JR
After a promising non-conference start to the season, the Pima Community College softball team opened conference play with a split at Arizona Western College in Yuma.
The No. 18-ranked Aztecs were held scoreless in the first game, but rallied in the second to take a 5-4 victory.
In the first game, Pima struggled to get the bats going, managing just seven hits. Freshman Edith Prieto led the team at the plate, batting 2-for-3.
Sophomore Margarita Corona led the Aztecs back in the second contest, batting 3-for-4 and driving in two runs. Freshman Mandy Lorenson was the winning pitcher, allowing four runs while striking out seven.
The softball team began its 2016-2017 season in the Southern Nevada Kick-Off Classic on Jan. 27, winning three of five games.
The Aztecs are coming off a productive 2015-16 campaign that saw them finish with an overall record of 47-19-1.
Pima fought its way last season to the Region I Division II championship game, where it fell to Phoenix College by a final score of 11-3. The team will be looking this season to reclaim that level of success and take the next step.
In 67 games last season, the Aztecs scored 523 runs with a .397 batting average and a .472 on-base percentage. They also cracked 38 home runs last season.
Sophomore Courtney Brown will look to improve upon her team-high 97 hits and 75 runs. Brown had the opportunity to emerge into a leadership role her freshman season, so now there are no surprises about her capabilities.
Corona and fellow sophomore Bailey Critchlow each posted 80 hits and 59 runs last season.
Critchlow will also be asked step up in the pitching department for the Aztecs, and may be the team’s ace. She appeared in 31 games last season and posted a record of 19-8 with an overall ERA of 4.50.
Fellow sophomore Luisa F. Silvain, returning after 29 game appearances in 2016, will also have an opportunity to step up as a pitcher. Last year, she posted a record of five wins and two losses and an overall ERA of 4.68.
On defense, the Aztecs return all three base players.
Sophomore Amy Pacheco returns for first base after appearing in 29 games last season.
Sophomore Gabriela Trejo will return to second after appearing in 56 games last season. Fellow sophomore Larissa Rodriguez will be back at third after appearing in 43 games last season.
Familiarity with teammates should be a huge advantage for the Aztecs this spring. Pima will look for another successful season under Coach Armando Quiroz, who won his 400th career game last season.
It is all about taking it one game at a time for the Aztecs, who opened the season ranked No. 18 in the NJCAA Poll.
Feb 4: Glendale CC, West Campus, doubleheader, noon and 2 p.m.
Feb 7: at Mesa CC, doubleheader, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Feb 11: Yavapai College, West Campus, doubleheader, 1 p.m. and 3 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 BRIANNA HERNANDEZ
Thump, thump, swoosh goes the soccer ball as it hits the player’s cleat. It’s a familiar sound to Kendra Veliz’s ears as she monitors players during a scrimmage.
“Mark a man,” she calls. “Open up.”
In a sports world heavily dominated by men, Veliz has spent 15 years making a name for herself as head coach for the Pima Community College women’s soccer team.
Veliz was named Arizona Community College Athletic Conference coach of the year in her first year of coaching the PCC Aztecs. Since then she has been voted ACCAC coach of the year four times.
This season, the Aztecs compiled a 16-6-1 record and took second place in the regional championship. Veliz celebrated her 200th career win at Pima with a home victory over Arizona Western College on Oct. 20.
The Aztecs have been crowned National Junior College Athletic Association District A and NJCAA Region I champions three times. The team has also been ACCAC champions five times, most recently in 2015.
Of the 14 sports teams at PCC, Veliz is the only female head coach. The next highest ranking belongs to Rebekah Quiroz, an associate head coach for the softball team.
“To me it’s inspiring,” freshman defender Emily Bliven said. “Many of the teams we’ve faced have male head coaches. It is very much a male-dominated position. To me, that shows just how good she is at her job.”
Veliz said she has never felt pressure to prove herself as a female coach. Instead, she deals with pressures that all coaches face, like the need to improve her team and win championships.
A player at age 9
Veliz began her soccer career in the early ‘80s at age 9 with the Fort Lowell Sidewinders. The Tucson club team made it to the Final Four in the National Soccer Tournament and was a Region IV champion three times. They were also Arizona state champions for five consecutive years.
She later played defense for three years on the Sahuaro High School varsity team.
The city’s soccer scene has exploded since Veliz’s time playing. Semi-professional men’s and women’s FC Tucson teams have emerged in the past six years and made a home for themselves at Kino Sports Complex.
Tucson also brings in professional soccer players annually for the Major League Soccer preseason and Desert Diamond Cup.
“There’s definitely a lot more soccer,” Veliz said. “Currently there’s just overall more of an interest in kids playing. There are more teams than when I played. So within the city of Tucson, you can now find more competition compared to when I was playing.”
After high school, Veliz knew she wanted to experience soccer somewhere other than Tucson.
She took an interest in Boston College’s Division I soccer squad after a BC assistant coach distributed pamphlets at a Sidewinder game during a tournament.
As a Boston College Eagle, Veliz was named to the Big East Conference Academic All-Star Team in 1993 and 1994. She was named MVP in her last year at Boston.
“With playing in college, it gives me the experience to say I’ve been there and done that,” she said. “I’ve been through college and played, and I know the demands and the expectations.”
Dual coaching jobs
Veliz accepted coaching positions in 2001 at both PCC and at the newly established Tucson Soccer Academy. In addition to working with college athletes, she coaches two girls’ TSA squads: for ages under-8 and under-10.
Eddie Hernandez, a TSA coach and former Pima soccer player, called Veliz a tough player who never gave up. “She’s a hard worker and I would say a lot of that translates into how she is as a coach,” he said.
Veliz has earned one of soccer’s highest certifications, a United States Soccer Federation National B license. It focuses on principles of long-term player development and team development for older teenage athletes who play at an elite level.
Veliz said she always knew soccer would play a major role in her life but never imagined she would coach a PCC game at Kino Sports Complex and then travel to the other side of town for TSA practice at Brandi Fenton Park.
“Especially with the youth, it’s really exciting when you see them improve,” Veliz said. “The excitement they exude from achieving something is contagiou. It’s a really great moment.”
She has a slightly different goal for her college players.
“Collegiately, it’s about giving local student-athletes the opportunity they may not have otherwise,” she said.
Veliz struggles to strike a balance between work and family.
“It’s difficult,” she said. “There’s a little too many quick dinners. Since I coach youth in the evening, it definitely makes it challenging.”
For that reason, she limits her coaching to local club teams. “I try not to choose the traveling teams because that takes away from my kids,” she said.
Dave Cosgrove, PCC men’s soccer head coach and a TSA co-founder, said Veliz inspires both her players and her colleagues.
“I’m not sure she has an extra responsibility to motivate young women but she does motivate them,” he said. “She motivates myself and the rest of the coaching staff to continue to improve, never to settle and to inspire our athletes, both men and women.”
Veliz models the type of behaviors, morals, ethics and hard work to which all players and coaches should aspire, Cosgrove added.
“Watching Kendra work, I think anyone would desire to pursue coaching, especially young women,” he said.
As she works with females of varying age groups with unique backgrounds, Veliz continuously opens herself up to players who are interested in pursuing coaching.
“It’s important to encourage these young ladies that are just becoming adults,” she said. “These young adults are very impressionable and so it’s important to have female role models in coaching positions to guide them and hopefully give them a chance at a coaching future as well.”
Several of Veliz’s former PCC players now help coach their high school or club team, including at Tanque Verde High School and the FC Sonora Soccer Club.
“She has inspired me to become a coach,” Bliven said. “I know she will help me become the best coach I can be.”
Veliz welcomes the opportunity to be a role model.
“I think overall, there is a comfort level,” she said. “I mean, your experience has been with women up to that point and that’s how you feel you could contribute and help the most with other women and giving them the opportunities.”
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 FRANCISCO ZAPATA
The University of Arizona men’s basketball team stands as one of Tucson’s top sport programs. It’s often a topic of discussion in Tucson, including at Pima Community College.
UA constantly provides top-ranked teams drawn from talented recruiting classes. However, the beginning of the 2016-17 season has been hard for the Wildcats.
The team has had to deal with losing 10 players from the 2015-16 season and is in the process of finding its identity.
The Wildcats did bring back talented scorer Allonzo Trier for his sophomore season after he flirted with an early move to the NBA.
Unfortunately, questions surrounding Trier’s eligibility kept him on the sideline through the first six games. Details surrounding his ineligibility remain a mystery, with UA staffers refusing to comment.
The Wildcats also watched Ray Smith end his basketball career in an exhibition game when he suffered a third ACL tear.
UA is currently weathering a storm of injuries and controversies that will force the team to respond either positively or negatively. Count on it enhancing chemistry and unity.
With UA head coach Sean Miller at the helm, expect UA to allow talents such as promising freshman Lauri Markkanen and senior veteran community college transfer Kadeem Allen to showcase their capabilities with extended responsibilities.
Experiencing this much adversity early on is good. When hard times approach again later in the season, the players will be familiar with them.
The predominantly young group will be forced to play team ball to win rather than relying on a proven scorer or player. That gives new and younger players an opportunity to prove themselves.
The Wildcats opened the season 5-2, including a last-second victory over No. 13 Michigan State. UA also dropped two games early on, to undefeated Butler and Gonzaga teams.
One obstacle is inability to stretch defenses with elite 3-point shooting. UA lacks a sufficient perimeter threat.
This will make it more and more difficult as tougher opponents come. Opposing teams will continue to clog the interior and welcome the outside shot.
In games against their toughest opponents, Michigan State, Butler and Gonzaga, UA shot a mere 27 percent from 3-point range.
Players did shoot at more than 50 percent against CSU Bakersfield, Santa Clara and Texas Southern, teams that had a combined record of 12-14.
The Wildcats have demonstrated they’re capability of playing well during difficult circumstances, though they have not beaten a top-ranked opponent. Michigan State, the lone ranked team they’ve beaten, is no longer in the top 25.
With a difficult conference schedule approaching, UA seeks to get back on track. Can you imagine the ceiling for this team if it’s healthy and if Trier returns to the mix? Yes, those are big “ifs.”
The Wildcats obviously are far from a finished product. Their experiences of hardship in the first month of the season will only benefit them come March. Of course, the return of their most hyped player would help too.