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Aztecs roll into national tournament

Aztecs roll into national tournament

By CASEY MUSE JR.

Pima men’s basketball wins Region I, Division II title and advance to NJCAA division II national tournament for the first time since 2009.
Photo courtesy of PCC Athletics

The Pima Community College men’s basketball team (22-11, 13-9 conference) found the postseason magic to advance to the NJCAA Division II tournament. This is the Aztecs’ first trip to the big dance in eight years.

The Aztecs won in the first round against a team from Illinois on March 21 and will face No. 1 seed Southwestern Community College of North Carolina on March 23 at 11 a.m.

During the March 8 Region I, Division II semifinal game against Glendale Community College, Ilunga Moise drives to the rim looking to help build on the Aztecs lead. PCC won the game and faced No. 1 seeded Phoenix College in the championship game on March 10.
Nicholas Trujillo / Aztec Press

March 8: PCC 119, Glendale 111

Pima outlasted Glendale Community College in a high-scoring affair at home in the Region I, Division II semifinals.

The No. 2 seeded Aztecs took an early 22-11 lead and never looked back.

The team made their first six threepointers to lead by 21 points. No. 3 seeded Glendale showed fight in the final minutes of the first half to cut the lead to 57-48 at the break.

An early run by Glendale in the second half cut the lead down to two points but PCC showed poise to put the game away.

Six Aztecs scored in double figures.

Sophomore Deion James scored a teamhigh 25 points and added 11 rebounds for his 18th double-double on the season.

Freshman Alize Travis scored 23 points on five-for-seven shooting from the field. He added 15 assists and six steals.

“It was very important to stay calm when the game got close,” Travis said. “Even when momentum is not on your side in the moment, you have to know how to respond and keep playing. Staying poised is a major key.”

Sophomore Damon Dubots contributed 19 points and 12 rebounds.

With the win, the Aztecs earned their first Region I, Division II championship game appearance in seven years.

Head coach Brian Peabody raises the net to celebrate winning the championship game.
Photo courtesy of PCC Athletics

March 10: PCC 102, Phoenix College 99

The No. 2 seeded Aztecs captured their first Region I, Division II championship since 2009 in a close game on the road against No. 1 seed Phoenix College.

The Aztecs were able to sustain a 51-49 lead at halftime.

Phoenix College began the second half on a 10-3 run to take a 59-54 lead. The Aztecs once again showed poise in the big moment, responding with back to back three-pointers to regain the lead.

The game went back and forth the rest of the way as the teams saw eight lead changes in the second half.

In the end, it came down to free throws. James hit a clutch pair to give Pima a 100- 96 lead with 9.8 seconds remaining. The defense held on to seal the victory.

Sophomore Emilio Acedo lead the way as he scored a team-high 27 points shooting six-for-nine from three-point range.

James scored 27 points and added 12 rebounds to earn the Most Valuable Player award for the game, after earning his 19th double-double of the season.

The victory was head coach Brian Peabody’s first region championship since taking over at Pima.

March 21: PCC 93, Waubonsee CC 84

Aztecs surround sophomore Deion James as he holds his trophy as the Region I, Division II championship game’s Most Valuable Player. He scored 27 points and had 12 rebounds.
Photo courtesy of PCC Athletics

The Aztecs took control early in their first-round NJCAA Division II Men’s basketball tournament game against Waubonsee Community College of Illinois.

Pima began on a 12-2 run to take a double- digit lead just minutes in.

The Aztecs maintained the lead on their way to a 40-30 halftime lead.

PCC busted the game open at the start of the second half as Acedo drilled two key three-pointers to help the Aztecs go on a 14-4 run and secure their largest lead of the game.

Waubonsee showed fight but could not battle all the way back.

Acedo finished the game with 14 points after making four three pointers.

James found his stride in the second half and led all scorers with 31 points, shooting 13-for-13 from the free throw line.

Dubots amassed nine points and 11 rebounds.

No. 1 seed Southwestern Community College beat Southern Maryland to face the Aztecs in the quarterfinal game.

Southwestern CC are just short of being undefeated for their season, losing only to Kirkwood CC of Cedar Rapids.

 

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.

 

ATHLETIC VOICE: Madness launches March 14

ATHLETIC VOICE: Madness launches March 14

By CASEY MUSE JR.

Ah, March. This the month in which the weather warms, the plants grow and the nation’s most intense single-elimination sports tournament occurs.

The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament will take place March 14-April 3, with games occurring in venues all across the country.

The tournament is an opportunity for 68 college teams that all hope to hoist a gold-plated Wooden NCAA National Championship trophy.

It’s also one of the biggest and most viewed sporting events in North America.

The 2016 national championship game between Villanova University and the University of North Carolina drew 17.8 million viewers, according to the International Business Times.

People everywhere wait for the fateful Sunday when they can begin filling out their personal brackets.

This year’s Selection Sunday falls on March 12.

Everyone attempts to display college basketball genius as they predict various upsets across their bracket.

Some participate in online challenges or office pools for money.

This is what “March Madness” is all about.

Many tune into games in which they have no personal interest, just to root for the underdog.

People at work can be found sneaking a stream on their office computer or smartphone.

There is something about the tournament that makes everyone act a little crazy.

This year provides a bit of hometown incentive for Arizonans, as the Final Four will be held at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

The Arizona site marks the first time a Final Four has been scheduled in the west since 1995, when it was held in Seattle.

The presale cost is up, with single- game Final Four tickets costing anywhere from $230 to $430.

Many take the gamble of purchasing tickets in hopes that their favorite team will make it. Some have no dog in the fight and just go to enjoy the experience.

Regardless of personal motives, the Final Four and the entire NCAA tournament truly make the month of March special.

Fill out your brackets, represent your school and enjoy the greatest tournament in America.

 

Who do you think will win it all? Share your prediction in a comment below.

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Pima riding wave to postseason

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Pima riding wave to postseason

Photo courtesy of PCC Athletics Sophomore Sydni Stallworth goes in for a layup against South Mountain.

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.

ON DECK

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.

MEN'S BASKETBALL: Aztecs catching fire at right time

MEN’S BASKETBALL: Aztecs catching fire at right time

Casey Muse Jr./Aztec Press Sophomore guard Zach Evans dribbles past a South Mountain defender.

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.”

ON DECK

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.

Lethal offense gets Pima back on track

Lethal offense gets Pima back on track

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.

Casey Muse jr./Aztec Press Freshman Guard Isaiah Murphy goes up strong during the Dec. 7 matchup with Eastern.

 

 

 

ON DECK

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.

UA men’s basketball in need of spark

UA men’s basketball in need of spark

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.

Classic hopes to raise awareness

Classic hopes to raise awareness

By NICHOLAS TRUJILLO

The second annual Tohono O’odham Community College Native American Classic basketball tournament, held at Pima Community College, offered a deeper message than competition.

The tournament represents a blend of culture, athletics and community collaborations. In addition to basketball, the three-day event featured cultural dancers, singers and food vendors.

Matt Vargas, head coach for Tohono O’Odaham men’s basketball team, said bringing in top area teams helps shine a spotlight on Native issues.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions and a lot of stereotypes,” he said. “It’s a beautiful culture. It’s a land that’s filled with a lot of good young minds, filled with a lot of potential. It’s not just poverty and casinos.”

Vargas worked with Tony Johnson, group leader of the Nolic Traditional Basket Dancers and Singers, to showcase Tohono O’Odaham culture.

“A lot of our family members are basket weavers so we’re trying to carry on that tradition,” Johnson said. “It’s a dying art these days. A lot of the language and a lot of the culture is dissipating.”

Johnson also wants to shed light on problems he sees plaguing other tribes.

He cited problems like a scarcity of capital institutions. Since the government owns the land, it becomes nigh impossible to get loans needed to start a business.

Other problems include poor water conditions and negative stereotyping, Johnson said.

Vargas and Johnson also love to see student-athletes play and connect through basketball.

Todd Holthaus, head coach for Pima’s women’s basketball team, welcomes the chance to participate.

“It’s very enlightening,” Holthaus said. “It’s always cool to be a part of something like this. It’s very cool to know that you can use basketball to bring together very different cultures.”

Vargas credited Pima athletic director Edgar Soto, men’s basketball head coach Brian Peabody and Holthaus with helping to ensure the tournament’s success.

“In reality, without Brian Peabody, without Todd Holthaus, without Edgar Soto, this doesn’t happen,” he said.

Before the Classic kicked off, Johnson and his group performed a blessing asking for the players to have safe competition.

“It’s a traditional blessing,” Johnson said. “This song we were thinking about is a warrior song, in honor of Veterans Day.”

During the tournament, Johnson’s group offered a blessing before each game. Dancers also performed during each halftime break, and invited everyone in the stands to join in.


Tony Johnson gives a blessing to Todd Holthaus, Matt Vargas and the court for the Native American Classic. Nick Trujillo / Aztec Press

Tony Johnson gives a blessing to Todd Holthaus, Matt Vargas and the court for the Native American Classic.
Nick Trujillo / Aztec Press

MEN’S BASKETBALL: PCC opens season with blowout wins

MEN’S BASKETBALL: PCC opens season with blowout wins

Freshman guard Isaiah Murphy drives to the basket in a 127-68 victory over Vegas Impact on Nov. 6.

Freshman guard Isaiah Murphy drives to the basket in a 127-68 victory over Vegas Impact on Nov. 6.

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.

 

ATHLETIC VOICE: Court storming must end

ATHLETIC VOICE: Court storming must end

By JASON WEIR

The home team plays its division rival, a team that won the conference tourney for the last six years. This time the home team is ahead when the final horn sounds, and jubilant fans storm the court.

Sports fans have seen the moment many times and debated it for years. Those against court-storming speak of the potential danger, those for it speak of the rite of passage.

The inherent dangers should be enough to stop educated young people from putting themselves and innocent people at risk.

In February 2004, the University of Arizona played a road game at Stanford University. The Cardinals upset the Wildcats and students stormed the court, which happens almost every time UA loses a road game.

Gerry Plunkett, wife of former Super Bowl MVP Jim Plunkett, was knocked to the floor and pinned face-down under her chair. “I was fortunate my injuries were severe bruises to my leg,” Plunkett told ESPN.

In Tucson, just 24 hours before the Stanford game, the Tucson High basketball team defeated its rival. When Tucson High students stormed the court on Feb. 6, 2004, player Joe Kay suffered a torn carotid artery that caused a stroke and left him paralyzed on his right side.

Instead of celebrating his 18th birthday a day early, he spent the next eight months in rehab.

Kay was Arizona High School Basketball Player of the Year, received a volleyball scholarship to Stanford University, was valedictorian, got a perfect score on his math SAT and was an award-winning saxophone player.

That all changed in one mob-mentality moment, though Stanford honored his scholarship.

“When I was going to Stanford, I went to quite a few basketball games,” Kay said in a phone interview. “A couple of times, the fans stormed the court. It was like they didn’t realize what occurred to me, to Gerry Plunkett, and what a scary event that game was.”

Kay points to the NBA as a positive example, saying officials placed security around the court and created a culture where court storming is not accepted.

“In the 1980s and before, it used to be pretty common for fans to storm the court,” he said. “They didn’t want to take the risk of having a player get injured, so they ended court-storming.”

Kay also believes college coaches can help end the madness. He applauded UA head coach Sean Miller for speaking out this season after a Colorado court-storming.

“He made a huge, huge imprint on the national media stage,” Kay said.

Kay calls for zero tolerance at any level, saying, “Storming the court should never be an option.”

How do we not all agree?

AthleticVoice

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Aztecs honor sophomores in win

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Aztecs honor sophomores in win

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.

Freshman Syndni Stallworth attempts to drive the ball down the court against South Mountain Community College on Feb. 20. Deanna Sherman/Aztec Press

Freshman Syndni Stallworth attempts to drive the ball down the court against South Mountain Community College on Feb. 20.
Deanna Sherman/Aztec Press


 

ON DECK

March 1: at Region I, Division II Playoffs (semifinals), TBA

March 3: at Region I, Division II Playoffs finals), TBA

 

Pima enjoys three-game win streak

Pima enjoys three-game win streak

Sophomore guard Yusaf Shehata (14) passes to freshman forward Kwintin Williams (3) during a game against South Mountain on Feb. 20.

Sophomore guard Yusaf Shehata (14) passes to freshman forward Kwintin Williams (3) during a game against South Mountain on Feb. 20. (Deanna Sherman/Aztec Press)

By STEVEN FOWLER

The Pima Community College men’s basketball team (17-12, 12-9 in ACCAC) has found itself on a three-game win streak and has hit the ground running as the 2015-16 regular season play winds down.

Pima was victorious in a back-and-fourth game Feb. 20 against South Mountain Community College. The Aztecs won 111-108 in overtime.

Down 108-105 with 3:05 remaining in overtime, Pima went on a 6-0 run to seal the win. Sophomore Justice Martion made a pair of free throws while the Aztecs’ defense kept South Mountain’s bench quiet.

All five starters scored in double figures. Sophomore Yusuf Shehata led the team with 27 points, making five 3-pointers. Martion scored 26 points with 10-of-15 shots made at the dish. Freshman Kwinitin Williams had a double-double with 18 points and 15 rebounds.

Freshman Keven Biggs scored 18 as well, while sophomore Cameron Volk scored 15 points.

The Aztecs swept the regular season series with the Cougars. The Aztecs won 81-79 in their previous meeting.

Sophomores Ezini Ugbisien, Volk, Martion and Shehata were honored at halftime in their final regular season home game.

On Feb. 17, the Aztecs defeated Central Arizona College 95-88 after leading 45-38 at halftime.

Three Aztecs scored more than 20 points in the game. Williams had a double-double of 24 points and 15 rebounds, Shehata finished with 22 points while going 6-for-10 in shooting and Martion had 21 points and three steals, while Biggs contributed with 11 points.

The Aztecs avenged their 70-62 loss against Central Arizona on Jan. 9 with the win.

Pima was unable to hold a double-digit lead on Feb. 10 against Mesa Community College and faltered 94-91.

Pima at one point held a 14-point lead at 22-8 and eventually led 48-39 at halftime.

At the start of the second half, freshman Damon Dubots hit consecutive free throws to make it a 50-39 score.

Williams made a three pointer, continuing Pima’s double-digit lead at 55-45. The Mesa Thunderbirds then went on an 11-2 run, trimming the deficit to one point at 57-56 with 12:37 remaining in the second half.

After a series of back-and-forth shots, the Thunderbirds’ successful rally came to fruition and they led 64-63 with 9:11 to go. The Aztecs regained the lead soon after when Biggs hit a three-pointer, putting the team in front 76-75 at the 3:50 mark.

Shehata led the team in scoring with 24 points while hitting 8-for-12 and 6-for-8 at three-point range. Shehata included eight assists in his successful game.

Martion finished with 21 points and eight rebounds while Biggs scored 18 points, five assists and eight rebounds. Williams was fourth on the team in scoring with 16 points while shooting 7-for-8 off the bench.

PCC was swept in both games against the Thunderbirds this season.

Pima’s regular season finale took place Feb. 23 at Scottsdale Community College, after Aztec Press went to the printer.

 

 


 

ON DECK

March 2: @ Region I, Division II Playoffs (Semifinals), TBA

March 4: @ Region I, Division II Playoffs (Finals), TBA

March 15: @ NJCAA Division II National Tournament, TBA

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Aztecs avoid back-to-back losses

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Aztecs avoid back-to-back losses

By JASON WEIR

The Pima Community College women’s basketball team got right back to their winning ways after having an 11-game win streak snapped on Jan. 23 at Phoenix College.

The Aztecs went 3-1 in the two-week span, winning back-to-back games before a loss to Eastern Arizona.

A Feb. 10 game at Mesa Community College took place after the Aztec Press went to press.

Pima won the first of its current three-game road trip, beating Cochise College 61-53.

The No. 8 ranked Aztecs gave the Apaches their first home loss this season and swept the season series. After taking a 12-10 lead, the Aztecs held the lead the rest of the night.

Freshman Sydni Stallworth finished with 21 points, her second straight game with 20 or more points.

On Feb. 3, the two top teams in the ACCAC conference met at Pima’s West Campus gym for their second and final regular season matchup. Eastern Arizona won the hard-fought game 77-69.

The Aztecs committed 24 turnovers against the pressure defense of the Gila Monsters. “Can’t give a good team that many opportunities,” head coach Todd Holtaus said.

Pima trailed much of the second half and all of the fourth quarter against the Division I opponent, but never let the Gila Monsters pull away.

“We stayed in the fight,” Holtaus said. “We didn’t give up.”

Two of the top players in the league battled most of the night. Gila Monsters’ Akia Frett and Stallworth, who both received player of the week honors Feb. 8, gave the fans a performance to remember as the two point guards each led their team in scoring.

The two players have seven player of the week honors between them this year.

“She is very good and it brings out the best in me,” Stallworth said about guarding Frett. “It’s tough, but it is fun at the end of the day.”

Sophomore Gabby Banales looked more comfortable as she continues to play more after coming back from a leg injury.

“It is my last year, so I do want to play a lot,” she said. “I have been working in practice at using my legs my more.” She made three of four 3-pointers in the game.

Pima returned home on Jan. 30 to beat Glendale Community College 68-59. The Aztecs had previously beaten the Gauchos 91-64 at Glendale on Dec. 2.

The Gauchos came prepared to challenge the No. 9 ranked Aztecs. Glendale Coach Jennifer Niebling had her team ready to challenge Pima’s athleticism with the Aztecs short-handed as Denesia Smith had to miss another game because of injury.

This fact was not lost on Pima, but don’t look for them to use excuses.

“Hard to replace her athleticism, but no one feels sorry for us,” Holtaus said. “We just have to step up.”

While the Aztecs were missing a key player, they still had many talented players in the lineup and used their size to beat the Gauchos. They outrebounded the Gauchos 53-35 (18-5 on the offensive boards).

Sophomore Taylor Blue led all players with 12 total rebounds (four offensive) and both sophomore Shalise Fernander and freshman Erin Peterson grabbed five offensive boards each.

Pima also blocked five Gauchos shots, with three by Fernander, compared to to just one block against them.

Blue, who led the team in scoring with 17, had a huge block with Pima ahead 56-55 and under four minutes to play. The block led to a layup for Stallworth to put Pima up 58-55.

A bucket by the Gauchos put them within one point ,58-57. Two free throws by Fernander, who got a shooter’s roll on both, followed by a Gauchos turnover and a baseline jumper from Blue, put the Aztecs up 62-57 with just over two minutes left in the game.

“That is where we needed help,” Fernander said about the rebounding edge. “We just control what we can.”

Neither the players or coaches were not happy with their play against the Gauchos, but were glad to get the win.

“It was not pretty but we will take it,” Holtaus said.

“It was sloppy, but I’ll take the win,” Fernander said. “We got the job done.”

The Aztecs rebounded from their second loss in conference play by beating Tohono O’odham Community College on the road 69-44 on Jan. 27.

This was the second time the Aztecs played the Jegos. They won the previous matchup 63-38 on Dec. 14.

The Jegos kept it close in the first half. Pima led 26-19 at the half, but took control of the game in the second half and ended the game outscoring Tohono O’odham 20-9.

 

Freshman guard Denesia Smith and sophomore forward Shalise Fernander prepare to stop a Scottsdale Community College Artichoke player from scoring a basket. (Steven Fowler/Aztec Press)

Freshman guard Denesia Smith and sophomore forward Shalise Fernander prepare to stop a Scottsdale Community College Artichoke player from scoring a basket. (Steven Fowler/Aztec Press)

ON DECK

Feb. 13: @Arizona Western College, 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 17: Central Arizona College, West Campus Gym, 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 20: South Mountain Community College, West Campus Gym, 2 p.m.

Feb. 23: @ScottsdaleCommunityCollege,5:30p.m.

Men’s team falls against Phoenix

Men’s team falls against Phoenix

by STEVEN FOWLER

The Pima Community College men’s basketball team (4-1, 1-1 in ACCAC) fell short on Saturday at the West Campus.

The Aztecs suffered their first loss of the season against No. 2 ranked Phoenix College 88-85 on Nov. 21.

Down 43-36 at halftime, the Aztecs rallied to take a 65-64 lead with six minutes remaining in the game. Phoenix took the lead and held a four-point lead down the stretch; their latest four-point lead was 83-79 with 28 seconds remaining.

Sophomores Justice Martion and Cameron Volk were key contributors in the game. Martion finished the game with his fourth straight double-double having 27 points and 11 rebounds. Volk finished with 14 points and six rebounds.

In the ACCAC conference opener, Pima defeated Chandler-Gilbert Community College 86-76 on Nov. 18. The Aztecs led the way 45-35 at halftime.

Martion and Volk each scored 23 points. Martion made 10 rebounds and secured his third consecutive double-double.

The Aztecs began the previous season on a hot streak, by going (4-1). The team finished the season on a winning note (18-13).

The Aztecs host Midland Texas College in a non-conference game against on Nov. 24 at 6 p.m. in the West Campus Gym.

 

ON DECK

Nov. 24: Midland Texas College @ West Campus, 6 p.m.

Dec. 2: @ Glendale Community College, 5:30 p.m.

Dec. 5: @EasternArizonaCollege,5:30p.m.

Dec. 9:CochiseCollege@WestCampus,5:30p.m.

 

Pg11-Mens Basketball 0

Sophmore Cameron Volk intimidates on offense against Phoenix College center Quinton Johnson at the Pima West Campus Gym on Nov. 21. (Deanna Sherman/Aztec Press)

Athletic Voice: Kerr is a role model

Athletic Voice: Kerr is a role model

by KIT B. FASSLER

It’s basketball season. So it’s time to remember Wildcat Steve Kerr, a legendary name and one of Arizona’s fan favorites. Kerr became such a popular athlete due to his leadership and long range shooting.

Kerr received a scholarship to attend the University of Arizona and started his freshman year in the fall of 1983 and graduated in 1988.

Kerr’s father, Malcolm Kerr, was the president at the American University in Beirut. In 1984, an Islamic terrorist shot the back of his head in the hallway outside his office.

Two days after Kerr’s father died, the Wildcats played against Arizona State University. He decided to play to honor his commitment to the game even after the huge loss of his father. Kerr helped the university reach the 1988 NCAA Final Four, playing along with Sean Elliott, Tom Tolbert and Kenny Lofton.

After graduating from college, Kerr played for NBA teams, including the Chicago Bulls, with Michael Jordan as a teammate, and also the San Antonio Spurs.

It was proven that Kerr rose above the tragedy he experienced in life. He worked as team president of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and partnered with Marv Albert, broadcasting NBA games for Turner Network Television.

At the age of 50, Steve Kerr coached the Golden State Warriors playing for the NBA title against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Learning from his past coaches, he understood that coaching is 90 percent working on creating a team environment and 10 percent strategy.

Immediately after winning his first NBA title as coach, he thanked his former University of Arizona coach Lute Olson and other coaches Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich.

As the new season begins, Kerr is taking a leave of absence. Kerr underwent surgery on his back in July and had another follow up surgery in September. He decided to focus more on rehabilitation before resuming his role as the head coach.

My family has been an avid fan of Kerr. Charlene, my eldest, was only one year old when we started watching Kerr play in 1983. When the Chicago Bulls played against the Cleveland Cavaliers in San Francisco, Charlene, now 33, bought a ticket. She was ecstatic watching the game and the reaction of Kerr after winning.

Kerr taught us that in spite of adversities, we need to focus on the positive and move forward. He valued his training from mentors and coaches, including his experiences with people from diverse backgrounds. He didn’t forget where he came from. Arizona will always remember Steve Kerr, a true leader. Bear down!