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Aztecs to face Glendale in playoff game.

Aztecs to face Glendale in playoff game.

 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

each.

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.

 

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Aztecs push ahead after dominating November schedule

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Aztecs push ahead after dominating November schedule

Sophomore guard Denesia Smith launches for a layup during a Dec. 3 game against Glendale Community College. (Nicholas Trujillo/Aztec Press)

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.

 

ON DECK

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.

Gershman drops 45 to end losing streak

Gershman drops 45 to end losing streak

By CALEB FOSTER

The Pima Community College men’s basketball team (17-8, 9-8 in ACCAC conference) snapped their four game losing streak behind a huge performance from Sophomore Murphy Gershman.

Gershman was named ACCAC player of the week for the third time adding to his resume as the top player for the Aztecs this season.

Pima will rely on him to lead them as they wrap up their last few games of the regular season which ends later this month.

In their game against Eastern Arizona College Gershman set the season record for both points and rebounds with 45 and 22, respectively.

The Aztecs swept Cochise College this season with their dominant 91-68 victory on Feb. 7. The win marked their second in a row after breaking a four-game losing strike.

Sophomore Bryan Cervantes racked up a game high 27 points in the victory shooting 5 for 9 from beyond the arc.Gershman played a dominant game again, posting a 21 point 16 rebound double-double.

Sophomore Matt O’Boyle, who was kept scoreless in the first half finished with 14 points in the second half. He went 4 for 8 in the 3-point range helping the Aztecs stretch their lead.

Gershman lead the Aztecs to a 96-85 victory over Eastern Arizona on Feb. 4.

Not only was it a crucial win, sweeping Eastern Arizona and getting back on track with their season, but the Aztecs had a standout performance by Gershman who dropped 45 points and grabbed 22 rebounds. Gershman was dominant and dynamic on the court hitting three 3-pointers and converting on three 3-point plays in the victory.

The Aztecs led 44-39 at half and battled through the second half with crucial performances by freshman Dorian Paige with 11 points and sophomore Andres Marquez with 10. Two well timed runs helped secure the victory. Sophomore Esteban Lopez finished with eight points and eight rebounds on the night.

The Aztecs added a loss to their season as they fell 71-64 on the road against Glendale Community College on Jan. 31.

Pima trailed by two at halftime but was unable to rally in the second half to win the game. The Aztecs split their games with Glendale, winning their first meeting of the season in December.

Gershman finished with a 22-point, 12-rebound double-double on the night. Cervantes added nine points and five rebounds.

The Aztecs dropped their home game on Jan. 28 against Tohono O’Odham 77-92. The game, stocked full of emotions and attitudes, was hard fought. In the end the Aztecs were unable to stop Tohono O’Odham from beyond three-point range, giving up 15 three-pointers.

The Aztecs trailed 49-39 at halftime and managed to get the game within five points part way through the second half but ultimately came up short.

O’Boyle struggled with his shooting, scoring 11, but had opportunities throughout the second half.

Gershman finished with a game-high 26 points, seven rebounds and three steals. He shot well from the line, going 13-15 on the night.

Cervantes dropped 21 points, with five coming from beyond the arc.

The Aztecs will host Mesa CC on Feb. 11 after the Aztec Press goes to print.

Pg13-Men's basketball

Freshman Dorian Paige drives through the paint looking to dish the ball out to a teammate in a Jan. 28 game against Tohono O-Odham.

 

MEN’S BASKETBALL: Peabody changes team culture

By JAIME HERNANDEZ

When Brian Peabody took the head coaching job for the men’s basketball team at Pima Community College, he knew he needed to change the team’s culture.

The Aztecs had gone 77-196 since 2004, with four head coaching changes and one playoff appearance.

That all changed during Peabody’s first year. He led the Aztecs to a 15-16 record. His team went 10-12 in conference play and secured the No. 4 seed in the Region I, Division II playoffs.

The Aztecs’ season ended when they lost an overtime thriller in the opening round of the playoffs, falling to No. 1 seed Phoenix College 108-104.

Sophomore Shakir Smith finished with 54 points and sophomore Tyler D’Amore hit a three-pointer with 20 seconds left to tie the game and force overtime. However, Phoenix College hit two three-pointers in overtime to win the game.

Freshman Ben Gershman had his 20th double-double of the season, with 14 points and 18 rebounds.

“I think we accomplished everything we set out to do this season with the exception of making the national tournament,” Peabody said.

Talented players including Smith, Gershman and freshmen Matt O’Boyle and Andres Marquez helped Peabody meet those goals.

Smith and Gershman earned All-Conference honors.

Pima will have most of its roster intact next season, losing only Smith and D’Amore. The rest of the team is expected to return.

Peabody said he wants to add more size to the roster, to compete with bigger teams in the conference. He also wants his team to work on strength training.

“We need to get into the weight room and just get stronger,” Peabody said. “There were a lot of games where teams just flat-out punked us because of our strength, and that can’t happen.”

Now that he has had time to look back on his first season, Peabody feels the Aztecs overachieved.

Peabody has set high standards for himself and his teams everywhere he has coached, and has met them every time. He vows to eventually take Pima to the national tournament.

“We’ll get there one year,” he said. “I’m not going to make any promises, but I’m not gonna stop till we make the national tournament.”

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

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

By BETO HOYOS

Pima Community College’s women’s basketball team is looking ahead to the playoffs following a loss in the regular-season finale.

The No. 2 seeded Aztecs will host No. 3 Chandler-Gilbert Community College on March 4 for the first round of the Division II regional tournament. The playoffs will run from March 4-6.

Pima ended the regular season with a 73-61 loss to Glendale Community College on Feb. 21.

The Aztecs tried to keep Glendale’s lead in check but trailed by nine at the half. In the second half, Pima did a better job of defending Glendale and limiting easy shots, but couldn’t find enough offense to turn the game around.

On Feb. 18, PCC defeated Arizona Western College 72-58. It was the final home game of the season, and the team made sure to go all-out in front of faithful fans.

Sophomores Holly Bolen, Felicia Foster, Raja Moreno-Ross, Shayna Porter-Banks and Rachel Williams were recognized after the game.

Freshman Alicia Jones was also honored. She has earned a scholarship to Florida A&M University, and will transfer there next year.

From the opening tip, the Aztecs fired on all cylinders. The previous meeting between the two teams saw Pima fall in overtime.

The Aztecs took a 17-point lead into the break and emerged from the locker room with the same intensity. Pima led by as many as 29 points in the second half.

Williams led the way with 16 points, while Jones finished with 15 points and Foster had 10.

On Feb. 15, the team defeated Cochise College 81-66.

Early in the first half, the Aztecs were down by 15 points. After an 8-0 run to bring the score within two points, Pima went into halftime with the lead.

At the beginning of the second half, the Aztecs held an 11-point lead but Cochise slowly came back and tied the game at 57 points. Pima responded with a 15-0 run to put the game out of reach.

Jones led the Aztecs with 20 points. Foster finished with 14 points and five assists, and freshman Melody McLaughlin finished with 13 points.

On Feb. 12, Pima handed Tohono O’odham Community College a 103-68 loss.

The Aztecs opened the game with relentless offense and tough defense, and held a 14-point lead by halftime. In the second half, the Aztecs outscored Tohono O’odham by 21 points.

Three Pima players were selected to Arizona Community College Athletic Conference All-Conference and All-Region teams.

Moreno-Ross was selected First Team All-ACCAC and First-Team All-Region I, Division II. She had 11 double-doubles during the season, averaging 13 points and nine rebounds per game. She started in all 30 regular-season games for the Aztecs.

Foster was selected Second Team All-ACCAC and First Team All-Region.  She also started all 30 games for the Aztecs, and averaged 11 points and three assists per game.

Jones was named Third Team All-ACCAC and Second Team All-Region. She led Pima in scoring, averaging almost 14 points a game. She was second in rebounding, averaging almost six per game.

Pg13-Women's basketball-Raja Moreno-Ross

Pima to host tournament over winter break

Pima to host tournament over winter break

By JAIME HERNANDEZ

The Pima Community College men’s basketball team couldn’t hold on to a halftime lead Dec. 7 and lost 97-80 to Mesa Community College.

The Aztecs’ record fell to 3-7 overall and 3-4 in conference.

Pima was led by freshman Murphy Gershman’s 21 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Matt O’Boyle had his second straight strong performance with 13 points and nine rebounds.

Freshman Andres Marquez finished with 12 points and seven assists, while freshman Bryan Cervantes had 11 points and freshman Tyler Roberts had 10.

Gershman was happy with the team’s overall performance. He said the team is showing flashes of just how good it can be, but needs to show it on the court for a full 40 minutes.

“We have to get better, myself included, to be able to compete with a team like Mesa, but I have no doubt we will get there,” Gershman said.

On Dec.4, PCC defeated South Mountain Community College 91-81.

The Aztecs controlled the game until Gershman fouled out with 4:28 left. It then became a free throw shooting contest, and Pima held on for the win.

South Mountain pressed Pima, and was able to force turnovers to take an early lead.

As the game progressed, Pima players figured out the press and got some easy points.

Head coach Brian Peabody was pleased with the team’s performance, and said players have shown improvement from game to game.

They are moving the ball better and looking to make an extra pass, he said.

O’Boyle had a game-high 26 points. Gershman recorded another double-double with 19 points and 17 rebounds. Marquez had 12 points and eight assists, while Cervantes scored 13 points and freshman Cameron Volk had 11 points.

On Nov. 26, the Aztecs fell to Scottsdale Community College 104-99 in a back-and-forth battle that marked their second straight loss. They were led by Gershman’s 31 points and seven rebounds.

The Aztecs will host the Pima Invitational Tournament Dec. 28-30 at West Campus.

Pg14-Men's basketball-Kendrick Little

Freshman Kendrick Little calls a play during a game against Chandler-Gilbert Community College. (Jaime Hernandez/Aztec Press)

 

Freshman center back on court at age 24

Freshman center back on court at age 24

By JAIME HERNANDEZ

 It’s been more than six years since Pima Community College freshman forward Ben “Murphy” Gershman played competitive basketball. At age 24, he’s back on the court.

The Tucson High School graduate started playing basketball at age 7.

When he graduated from high school, no colleges made any scholarship offers. He attended PCC, but dropped out after four weeks to join the work force.

“I wasn’t ready for college back then,” Gershman said. ”I wasn’t interested in school and I wasn’t playing basketball, so there was nothing really keeping me here.”

Gershman worked retail, then started his own home remodeling and maintenance company about two years ago.

He kept returning to the basketball court, playing in a city league. A friend, Jerry Ledesma, urged Gershman to try out for the PCC basketball team.

“He would constantly tell me to try out, but I would keep putting him off ‘cause honestly I didn’t think I could do it,” Gershman said.

First-year PCC head coach Brian Peabody didn’t share Gershman’s doubts.

“I went to watch him play and offered him a spot on the team right away,” Peabody said.

Peabody said Gershman brings a blue-collar work ethic that makes him the team’s leader.

“He treats this like a job,” Peabody said. “He comes to practice every day ready to work.”

Both Peabody and Gershman believe in leading by example. So far this season, Gershman is averaging 19.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.

“I didn’t think I would be playing this good,” Gershman said. “The thing is, I know I can play much better.”

Gershman has garnered respect from his teammates.

“He’s amazing,” freshman forward Maurice “Mo” Webb said. “Ben is the leader of our team in every

sense. If there’s someone you should look up to or someone you’re trying to emulate on or off the court, it’s Ben Gershman.”

Basketball has opened other opportunities for Gershman.

He’s earned a 3.8 GPA taking gen-ed classes at Pima, and hopes to continue playing at a four-year university. His long-term goal is to earn a degree in engineering.

“I wasn’t ready for school back then, but I am now,” Gershman said.