By HANK ROBICHAUD
On Mar. 9 the Aztec women’s team were able to regain the Region 1, Section II title when they overcame the Mesa Community College Thunderbirds 80-58. The Thunderbirds had won the two previous championships.
After a tight first quarter which the Aztecs led 18-16, Haile Gleason set the tone in the second quarter by scoring five straight points forcing Mesa to call timeout. The Aztecs used a 12-3 run to take their first double digit lead at 30-19 forcing the Thunderbirds to call another timeout with 4:13 left in the half. Pima continued with a 10-4 run at the end of the quarter, and led 40-23 at the break after out scoring Mesa 22-7 in the quarter.
From there, Jacqulynn Nakai took over scoring 22 of her 30 points in the second half. She went 8 of 14 from the floor and 11 of 12 at the free throw line. She was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
RyLeigh Long hit some huge three-pointers as she finished with 13 points and went 3 of 5 from three point range (Curry range). Alyssa Perez also had a good night of shooting (went off) going 5 of 9 from the floor and finished with 12 points.
On Mar. 5 the trio of Nakai, Bribiescas, and Lawson combine for 72 points as the Aztecs took down the Chandler-Gilbert Community College Coyotes 92-83, to advance them to the regional finals.
The Aztecs trailed 19-17 after the first quarter and took back a slim lead at 29-25 with 6:18 left in the second. The Aztecs proceeded to go on a 19-2 run to take a 48-27 lead as Haile Gleason was a key contributor scoring 10 points on 4 for 4 shooting and 2 for 2 from three-point range.
The Aztecs finished the game with lackadaisical effort allowing the Coyotes to go on an 18-7 run to close out the game.
Nakai scored a team-high 27 points with eight assists and six rebounds. Bribiescas fell a rebound short of a double-double with 23 points and nine rebounds. Lawson went 10 of 15 from the field and finished with 22 points.
On Feb. 26 the Aztecs wrapped up the regular season with yet another win of the Glendale Community College Guancho, by the final 79-58.
This solidifies the season series sweep against the Gauchos as they were victorious 80-67 back on January 19th.
Sophomore guard, Jacqulynn Nakai, became the first Pima women’s basketball player to be named outright ACCAC Player of the Year, for both Division I and Division II. She was also selected first team All-ACCAC and first team All-Region I, Division II.
Nakai led the conference in averaging 24.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 2.0 steals. She played in 29 games this season; making 28 starts.
With the number and achievements that Nakai it comes as no surprise she was name ACCAC Player of the Year. She had nine ACCAC player of the week awards and she took over the Scoring title in Pima Women’s Basketball history when she passed Tia Morrison who had held that title for around nine years.
The women’s basketball NJCAA Division II Tournament will be in Harrison, AK on Mar. 19-23, and the Aztecs having won seven of their last eight games and finished 12-4 on the West Campus Aztec Gymnasium floor this season.