By ZACH SMITH
Emilio Acedo’s lifelong dream of achieving college basketball success came to a halt two years after his high school graduation.
Acedo left Salpointe Catholic High School in 2011 as the Southern Arizona Player of the Year. Following a standout senior year, he’d garnered interest from several Division II and a few Division I schools.
He ultimately chose to attend Lincoln College in Illinois. When Acedo’s father became unexpectedly ill during his first year at Lincoln, he returned to Tucson.
He spent the next two-and-a-half years out of basketball, but he’s recently made a comeback.
“I just never really gave up on the dream I had to go as far as possible,” Acedo said. “I did take a little break but it didn’t stop me.”
RISE TO STARDOM
As a high school senior, Acedo led his team in points scored, points-per-game, field goals made and three-point shots made, according to Maxpreps.com.
His freshman year was a different story.
Salpointe basketball coach Brian Holstrom started as head coach of Acedo’s freshman team. He later moved up to varsity assistant coach and eventually took over as the varsity head coach.
Holstrom said Acedo had flaws in his game as a freshman. He called Acedo the team’s best offensive player, but one of the worst defenders.
Senior year was different. Holstrom’s favorite memory of Acedo came during a blowout game, when Acedo made seven three-point shots in the first half alone. That led to a standing ovation from the crowd when he took a seat back on the bench.
Accolades soon followed, including being named 2011 Southern Arizona Player of the Year by the Arizona Daily Star. No Salpointe player has earned the honor since.
Acedo felt he matched up well with former high school opponents who went on to play Division I basketball. He attributed the lack of exposure in Tucson to Amateur Athletic Union basketball.
AAU youth basketball spans the entire country, and has taken over college basketball’s recruiting landscape. The league has become a showcase for talented players to display their athleticism in travel and local district tournaments.
Acedo played shooting guard in high school at 6 feet, 4 inches. However, his AAU team lacked height so he played as a power forward. He was small for the position, but his Tucson travel team had no choice other than to utilize his frame to win games.
Acedo’s best attributes as a player were his length, high release and shooting ability, according to Holstrom. None of those attributes could be appropriately displayed with Acedo playing “down low” against big men in AAU ball.
“Out of high school, I wanted to go to Central Florida or somewhere in Florida,” Acedo said.
Lincoln, a two-year school in Illinois, provided Acedo the best chance to pursue his dream of playing at a Division I school in Florida. The final selling point came when Lincoln’s coach told Acedo he had a great relationship with a coach at Florida State.
“I went to the JC to get to a bigger school – a way bigger school,” Acedo said.
Acedo calls his father the biggest influence in his life. His father, a golfer, taught him life lessons through sports.
“As a basketball player it really helped,” Acedo said. “In golf, if you hit a bad shot, you’ve got a next shot. You can’t worry about your last shot – just like basketball. You miss a shot, it’s gone, over with, and you’ve got to focus on the next one.”
During Acedo’s freshman year at Lincoln, his father became very ill. He decided to come home, and spent the next two-and-ahalf years working and going to school in Tucson.
He occasionally played basketball at the University of Arizona Recreation Center.
“I would play basketball here and there at the rec, but it wasn’t like I used to,” Acedo said. “I wasn’t on a team anymore.”
Holstrom remembers that period.
“There was a time where I was pretty worried about him, kind of exchanging messages and hoping he was OK,” he said.
PLAYING FOR PIMA
Acedo played this season as a sophomore with the Pima Community College men’s basketball team. The 24-year-old averaged about 18 points per game.
He now looks at the game differently.
“My mentality has changed in the fact that just playing the sport is really a blessing,” he said. “Getting coaching, people looking out for you, you have to get good grades. It’s not all about basketball.”
Acedo describes junior college players as those who went “unnoticed.” The difference in skill level is obvious.
“You’re playing with players that know how to play – it’s not kids who go out there and tryout,” he said.
The process of being recruited is different than it was in 2011. Pima’s assistant basketball coach, Dylan Hidalgo, called today’s recruiting landscape “a competitive market that is only getting more competitive.”
Acedo appreciates Hidalgo’s help with the process.
“Hidalgo puts together film that he sends out to every coach that we feel like would be interested,” he said. “He really does a lot of the dirty work.”
Hidalgo explained the differences between recruiting a player coming out of a junior college as opposed to high school.
“Coaches evaluate JC players differently because you are only going to have two years to develop this individual and have success with him in your program,” he said.
“If coaches are recruiting JC players, they want them to be able to come in and play right away, not sit the bench and waste their scholarship money, because there isn’t much time to develop.”
Offers to date include Texas A&M International, Western New Mexico and San Angelo State.
His top choice is University of Califronia- San Diego. “It’s a great school, good facility. That’s where I want to play next year.”
Acedo’s recent success is no stroke of luck, Hidalgo said.
“Emilio is a quiet person and a guy of habit,” he said. “He does the same routine physically and mentally to prepare for basketball games and practices.”
The player Hidalgo describes as a mature “older brother” to the rest of the team sounds different from the high school freshman described by Holstrom.
“You can just see it in his eyes and his stance that he’s so much more focused and dedicated,” Holstrom said.
Acedo’s mentality reflects the roller-coaster ride that life has put him through over the past five years. “I couldn’t be more proud that despite all of that, he’s kind of reached this point where he’s overcome and developed into the man that he is,” Holstrom said.
By MICKEY RAY LAMB
Pima Community College men’s basketball sophomore forward Ben “Murphy” Gershman was named a Second-Team NJCAA II All American.
Gershman started in 27 of 31 games this season, leading the Aztecs to a 18-13 overall record, posting 20 double-doubles averaging 24.4 points and 12 rebounds per game.
Gershman was named NJCAA Player of the Week once, and ACCAC Conference Player of the Week three times.
He is only the fourth PCC player to have earned the honor and the first since Darrell King in 1991.
In a 2013 interview for the Aztec Press, fellow teammate Maurice Webb said Gershman “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.”
Gershman takes his responsibility as a leader seriously.
“Leadership is being able to take responsibility when things go bad,” Gershman said. “Taking everything on your shoulders and say, ‘you know, its my fault. I’ll take responsibility and find a way to get better next time.’”
Gershman started his Pima career at age 24 and did not expect to find the amount of success he found at Pima or to be enjoying the classroom aspect as much as he has.
“My advice to student athletes is to work as hard on the academics as you do on the athletics,” Gershman said. “Don’t allow yourself to work less than 100 percent in the classroom.”
Gershman signed his national letter of intent to play for Colorado School of Mines in November.
“They have a great basketball program and had an exceptional year,” Gershman said. “As an aspiring engineer, there’s really no better choice for me.”
In a recent Arizona Daily Star article, Gershman referred to the Pima gym banner displaying All-American achievers.
“One of my goals was to get my name on that banner,” he said, “and to get it is an amazing feeling.”
By DEANNA SHERMAN
The Pima Community College’s women’s basketball team ended its season early in a loss to Phoenix College 55-53 on March 4 at the West Campus gym.
Despite Pima having the No. 1 seed over No. 4 Phoenix going into the Region I, Division II Tournament semi-finals, the Aztecs struggled to pull out the win.
Sophomore Heather Rogers scored 14 points, 10 of them in the second half, and had five steals to end the game and the season.
Sophomore Melody McLaughlin scored a team-high 15 points with nine rebounds. She ended the season averaging around 14 points and seven rebounds and managed to start all 30 games.
McLaughlin was selected Second Team All-ACCAC and First Team All-Region I, Division II.
Freshman Shalise Fernander contributed 10 points and eight rebounds.
Fernander ended the season with an average of 12 points and seven rebounds per game and was named Third Team All-ACCAC and Second Team All-Region I, Division II.
Reflecting on the season, Fernander said, “The beginning of the season was a little shaky, but toward the end of the season it was such a beautiful thing to see us all click on the court. I couldn’t ask for a better team.”
Pima ended a strong season with an overall 17-14 record and 14-8 in the ACCAC Region I, Division II conference.
On Feb. 24, Pima sealed the No. 1 seat in the Region I, Division II Tournament.
The Aztecs pulled out a win in an exciting game against Scottsdale Community College, 66-62.
With under a minute left in the game, the score was tied 62-62.
Freshman Kristin Baldwin scored a jump shot, putting Pima up 64-62 with 39.6 second left on the clock.
Scottsdale tried to tie the game back up. After a missed shot, freshman Shalise Fernander was fouled as she came down with the defensive rebound.
Fernander then made two clutch free-throw shots, putting the Aztecs up 66-62 with only 21.1 remaining in the game, sealing the game.
Even though the season is over Fernander is already excited for next year.
“I look forward to all the new freshman babies coming in and teaching them all the tricks of being successful in college on and off the court”
By CALEB FOSTER
The Pima Community College men’s basketball team ended its season with an 80-71 loss against Tohono O’Odham in Sells on March 4.
The Aztecs struggled all season against Tohono O’Odham, dropping both of their regular season matchups.
The Aztecs came out slow in the semifinal game, being outscored 39-24 in the first half . They were never fully able to catch up even though they outscored their opponent 47-41 in the second half.
Pima was the No. 3 seeded team in the Region I Division II semifinals, with Tohono O’Odham being seeded right above them at No. 2.
The Aztecs would have hosted Tohono O’Odham at the West Campus if they could have won their final regular season game against Scottsdale Community College on Feb. 24.
They fell to Scottsdale 79-78 but had a chance at the end of the game.
Sophomore Bryan Cervantes missed a three-point shot with 9.6 seconds left in the game.
Sophomore Matt O’Boyle grabbed the offensive rebound and put it in for two with 0.2 seconds left, leaving the game to run out of time.
Sophomore Murphy Gershman led the team with a 31-point, 11-rebound double-double. O’Boyle added 22 points as he shot 6 of 10 past the three point line. Sophomore Esteban Lopez finished with 12 points on the night.
Head coach Brian Peabody led the Aztecs to the tournament for the second year in a row. The team finished with an 18-13 overall record this season.
O’Boyle and Gershman led the team, with both posting impressive stats.
O’Boyle was the Aztecs’ biggest threat from three-point range, shooting just under 50 percent and averaging 18.2 points a game.
O’Boyle was named to the Third Team All-ACCAC and Second Team All Region I, Division II. He played and started in 28 of 30 games.
Gershman led the team in double-doubles with a total of 19 on the season. He was also selected to the First Team All-ACCAC Conference and First Team All-Region I, Division II.
He averaged 27.8 points and 11.5 rebounds a game this season, leading the ACCAC in points. He played and started in 26 of 30 games.
Gershman has committed to play for Colorado School of Mines next semester.
Gershman was named NJCAA National Player of the Week in January, an honor he was particularly proud of.
“If I’m being honest, that was one of my goals this year,” Gershman said in an interview with KVOA. “I didn’t get it last year, so it was one of my personal goals this year and I got it.”
By BETO HOYOS
Pima Community College defeated Mesa Community College 61-58 in an overtime thriller on Feb. 8.
“We just made one more shot than the other team,” head coach Todd Holthaus said.
Mesa tied the game toward the end of regulation and extended the game to overtime.
“Mesa and Pima games are epic and today proved no different,” Holthaus said.
With time running down, Felicia Foster found Alicia Jones open from deep as time expired. The Aztecs stormed the court in celebration.
“A great win against a great team,” Holthaus said.
Jones finished with 26 points and nine rebounds. Foster had nine points.
On Feb. 5, Pima defeated South Mountain Community College 75-53.
Coming out of the half, the Aztecs hunkered down defensively and held on to a comfortable lead. The largest lead for the Aztecs was 75-50.
Jayla Brown hit four shots from deep and finished the game with 12 points. Raja Moreno-Ross had 20 points and 11 rebounds.
On Feb. 1, the Aztecs defeated Scottsdale Community College 64-63.
The first half saw both teams exchange leads. After halftime, the Aztecs held leads that never surpassed six points.
“There were a few bad calls and we weren’t making our free throws but we did stick together,” Holly Bolen said.
With 1:03 seconds left to play, Melody McLaughlin found Foster open for a three. After a few possessions of fighting back, Scottsdale hit an open three that cut the lead to two with 21 seconds left.
“Coach always talks about playing for a full 40 minutes, not 38, not 20, but 40 and that game was not a reflection of that,” Bolen said.
Moreno-Ross tallied her tenth double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 boards. Rachel Williams finished with a team-high 13 points off the bench and Foster finished with 12 points.
On Jan. 29, the Aztecs broke a losing streak when they defeated Phoenix College 81-65 and swept the season series.
Pima took an early lead with a 15-0 run. The biggest lead of the game came after McLaughlin hit a three and put the Aztecs up 34-17.
Coming out of halftime, Phoenix College cut into the Aztecs’ lead and trailed by five. The Aztecs responded by going on an 8-0 run.
Moreno-Ross led the team in scoring, finishing with 17 points. Jones had 16 points and seven rebounds. McLaughlin finished with 12 points and Williams had 12 points off the bench.
By JAIME HERNANDEZ
Pima Community College beat Tohono O’dham Community College 87-84 on Jan. 4, extending the Aztecs’ winning streak to six games and improving their record to 9-7 on the season.
The game had 23 different lead changes, but the Aztecs came away with the victory.
TOCC players were bigger at every position, but the Aztecs won thanks to leadership by the dynamic duo of freshman center Ben Gershman, and sophomore guard Shakir Smith.
No team seemed to ever have control of the game. When Pima made a run, Tohono would come back. Whenever Tohono made a run, Pima would do the same. The largest lead any team had was six points.
Coach Brian Peabody said after the game that he was thrilled with the way his team battled.
He said that this is how every conference game must be played if the Aztecs expect to keep winning.
Gershman led the way for the Aztecs once again, putting up another double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
“As a team, we had to fight tonight, that’s what every conference game is going to be like,” Gershman said.
“Murph had to work a lot harder than he usually does, a lot of thanks goes to him and his performance,” freshman Matt O’Boyle said, referring to Gershman, who had 18 points and 14 rebounds in the game to help his team emerge victorious.
As for Smith, the team hasn’t lost since he has joined the team in December. Watching from the sidelines early on in the season was extremely hard on him, but he has said he used it as a learning experience and will not take the game for granted again.
Smith lead the Aztecs in scoring with 27 points and also added seven assists. Freshman guard Andres Marquez finished with 13 points, going 11-14 from the free throw line.
“A year ago, we would’ve lost this game, but this Aztec team knows how to fight,” Peabody said.
The early success hasn’t changed the team’s focus on the big picture.
“Our goal is to go to the national tournament. That’s still our goal, we haven’t done anything yet,” Peabody said.
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.
By JAIME HERNANDEZ
Pima Community College women’s basketball coach Todd Holthaus has high expectations for his players this season. Coming off a 17-15 record and a trip to regionals last year, he expects them to take the next step.
“I feel like the work we have put in since June in the weight room and just hanging out together has developed some great chemistry,” he said.
Holthaus said the close-knit team compares favorably to successful teams from the past.
“We may not be the biggest or the fastest, but it’s the team that’s the most together,” he said. “This group is one of the most together groups that I’ve ever coached to this point, and I’m excited about that.”
Holthaus is starting his seventh season as head coach. He has posted a 130-66 overall record, with five straight winning seasons.
To make it six in a row, Holthaus will rely heavily on three talented sophomores: point guards Rachel Williams and Felicia Foster, and forward Raja Moreno-Ross.
“This year I’m looking to take more of a leadership role,” Williams said. “Last year I sat and watched.
Now it’s our turn to step up to that role.”
The Aztecs believe they have the talent and togetherness that is necessary for advancing to nationals.
“Our goal is a national championship this year,” Ross said. “Regionals won’t be good enough.”
The team has a mix of returning and new players. Sophomore forward Holly Bolen transferred from Eastern Arizona College and freshman guard Amanda Gamez is expected to contribute immediately.
The Aztecs will be tested early when Midland College comes to Tucson on Nov. 8. The Texas school is expected to be one of the top Division 1 junior colleges in the country.
“This is a great way to start the season,” Holthaus said. “The thing we need to do is to play together, play smart and, most importantly, to play tough.”
He said the Aztecs will need toughness to beat talented teams.
“We’ve been preaching all summer long about being Aztec tough,” he said. “For us to beat the bigger and stronger teams, we have to have that mentality of not backing down.”
By JAIME HERNANDEZ
It’s been 12 years since the Pima Community College men’s basketball team has had a winning season. Newly hired head coach Brian Peabody plans to change that statistic.
Peabody feels he can build a winning team, though he warns it may take a few seasons.
“I would love to play as up-tempo as we possibly can,” Peabody said. “I need to be realistic, though.”
This year’s team will likely play half-court man-to-man sets about 95 percent of the time, he said. “We’ll press on occasion but right now we don’t have the horses to do that full time.”
Peabody has coached for 29 years. For the last six years, he’s been the head coach at Tucson’s Ironwood Ridge High School.
He took the Nighthawks to five straight league titles and two state championship games. Ironwood Ridge won the state title in 2008.
Peabody was named Southern Arizona high school coach of the year seven times and was twice honored as Arizona high school coach of the year.
At Pima, Peabody will rely on a trio of freshmen for leadership roles: guard Andres Marquez, center Ben Greshman and forward Mat O’Boyle.
Peabody said the three are leaders on and off the court, taking both basketball and their school work seriously.
Past Aztec teams lacked discipline and accountability, a mindset that Peabody plans to change.
He has instituted a mandatory study hall after practice for all players. He also emails players’ instructors to see how they are doing in class, to make sure they do not fall behind.
That lack of past discipline will force Peabody to miss his first game of the season when the Aztecs play LA College Prep at home on Nov. 4.
Last year’s head coach, Gabriel Van Guse, was ejected from Pima’s final game of the season. According to ACCAC rules, the coach must be suspended for the following game. Peabody will serve the suspension.
Jim Rosborough will serve as an honorary coach in his stead, along with Pima assistant coaches Mike Morgan, Daron Cross and Tommy Romano.
Rosborough was a longtime assistant coach under University of Arizona men’s basketball legend Lute Olsen and was an assistant coach at Pima in 2009-2010. That season, the Aztecs finished in seventh place at the NJCAA Division II National Tournament.
“It will be fun to sit on the bench, be close to the action and see what Brian has this year,” Rosborough said in a press release. “Brian has been a friend for a long time and I’m happy to help him out.”
Story by James Kelley
Photo by Daniel Gaona
The Chandler-Gilbert Community College men’s basketball team dominated the Pima Community College hoops team during the regular season, but the Aztecs won the one that counts.
No. 3 seed PCC upset the No. 2 seed Coyotes 73-65 in the semifinals of the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 1, Division II tournament in Chandler.
On Jan. 6, Chandler-Gilbert beat the Aztecs 91-86 in Tucson and then on Feb. 13 routed Pima 89-59.
Pima will travel to top-seeded Phoenix College on Saturday night with a berth to Nationals on the line.
Pima and Phoenix split during the regular season, including a 70-60 win by the Aztecs when the Bears were ranked No. 6.
In Thursday’s game, sophomore guard Jeremy Harden scored 19 points and had 13 rebounds. Sophomore forward Travares Peterson scored 12 points while freshman forward Daniel Conorque scored 11.
Freshman forward Ervin Felder grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.
The winner of the championship game will advance to the NJCAA National Tournament.
Story by James Kelley
Photo by Daniel Gaona
The Pima Community College men’s basketball team advanced to the second round after dominating Scottsdale Community College in a 96-74 win on Tuesday night at home.
The No. 3 seeded Aztecs blew out the No. 4 seeded Fighting Artichokes from the start.
Freshman forward Daniel Conorque led all scorers with 27 points on 10-14 shooting and he nabbed 13 rebounds.
Sophomore forward Travares Peterson scored 22 points. Freshman Zeke Odima burst onto the scene with a season high 18 points and eight rebounds.
Pima heads to the semifinals at No. 2 seed Chandler-Gilbert Community College on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Story by James Kelley
Photo by Daniel Gaona
The Pima Community College women’s basketball team moved one step closer to returning to Nationals on Tuesday night.
The seventh ranked and top seeded Aztecs beat No. 4 seeded South Mountain Community College 65-55 to clinch a spot in the finals of the National Junior College Athletic Association Region I, Division II tournament.
Pima will face No. 2 seed Mesa Community College, which dispatched No. 3 seed Scottsdale Community College 56-46.
Sophomore guard Jessica Jones led all scorers with 17 points and tallied five steals.
Sophomore forward Tia Morrison recorded her customary double-double, garnering 15 points and 14 rebounds. Sophomore LeAndra Lucas scored 15 and shot 5-6 from the free throw line.
Pima hosts the Region championship on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Aztec Gym on the West Campus. Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for students and free for kids under 12.
By Daniel Gaona
Photo by Daniel Gaona
Travares Peterson recently won Division II National Junior College Athletic Association player of the week, and he didn’t even know it.
“I actually didn’t know that I had gotten national player of the week,” Peterson said. “Someone told me I got conference player of the week and then I didn’t know ‘til three or four days later that I had got national player of the week.”
Peterson, better known as “T” by his coaches and teammates on the Pima Community College basketball team, said student assistant coach Matt Vargas was the first to tell him.
“He let me know very smoothly,” Peterson said. “He was talking to me and he just told me I got player of the week and I just told him I knew already, but then he told me it was national and told me to go check.”
That’s exactly what Peterson did. After seeing that it was true, he wasn’t sure what to think.
“I wasn’t really shocked but I was happy that I got it,” he said. “I really don’t know a lot of guys that get it and I think it is a big honor. I just thank my teammates and my coaches for putting me in a situation for that.”
The 6-foot-4-inch guard from El Paso won the award for a week that he didn’t consider his best.
“I think I’ve had a couple better weeks,” he said. “I don’t think that was my best week this season but if nationally they think it was, I’m not going to go against them. I’m just going to take it and be happy and glad about it.”
Pima opened the week ending Feb. 7 with a 116-110 home loss to Eastern Arizona College but rebounded with a 99-83 win over Scottsdale Community College.
Peterson totaled 26 points against Eastern, shooting 9-15 and sinking three three-pointers. Against Scottsdale he scored 20 points, including three three-pointers again, converting 7 of 18. He also tallied eight rebounds, four steals and three assists in the week.
He averages 17 points a game and is in sixth place in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference. His field goal percentage is just over 52. He has won the ACCAC player of the week award twice.
Peterson feels the award helped put Pima on the map and helps him out for the future.
“It opens up so many doors,” he said. “I hope it helps put my name out there and shows that even at Pima there are players that can play and can play at the next level up on the big stage.”
He said he isn’t too focused on what the future holds for him in basketball but is more concerned about the present.
“I just go out there and play and work hard in the classroom,” Peterson said. “I have no idea what comes in for me or what colleges have been trying to contact me. I’ll just wait ‘til the end of the season to figure all that out.”
After going 10-20 last year, Peterson and the Aztecs could potentially host a playoff game. The team is currently 14-13.
“We all started the season with the same goal and that was to win a national title at the Division II level,” he said. “It’s a great feeling to build back up a program that has fallen in the years and to get people to recognize it.”
“Pima basketball might have faded away but we’re back, we’re here,” he added. “We’re ready to play. We’re excited and humbled that we might be able to host a playoff game.”
Peterson credits “more guys buying into the system” for the team’s success this year. He also said the defense has stepped up from last year, and the hunger and want from everybody on the court has increased.
“Everyone wants to play as a team,” the sophomore added. “This year there is a lot of team players and everyone understands their roles.”
Head coach Karl Pieroway had nothing but compliments for Peterson.
“He’s a great kid,” the coach said. “He was here last year so he went through all the struggles with us trying to turn this thing around. He was here Day One. It’s exciting having those guys around.”
Pieroway couldn’t think of one word to describe Peterson. He called him “tough to the fit” and a “slasher.” He also said Peterson can shoot from anywhere on the floor.
“He is a match-up nightmare,” Pieroway said. “If you put someone big by him, he’ll go right by him. If you put a little kid in front of him, he’ll shoot over him. Offensively, he’s a challenge to say the least.”
Peterson came to Pima after hearing about the tryouts being held by Pieroway in the summer of 2008. After the first week, Peterson didn’t make the cut.
“I didn’t make it but coach Pieroway insisted that I come back the next week because he felt like I didn’t show exactly what I could do on the court,” Peterson said.
In his second attempt, Peterson made the team and is currently building his reputation as an Aztec.
He said assistant coach Tim Ingram saw potential in him.
“They wanted to see me once more and I’m glad I got that extra chance,” Peterson said. “I never would have thought it would turn into this.”
Peterson said he likes to stay lighthearted and energetic before games.
“Every game is big for me but some games are bigger than others,” he said. “I just listen to my music, get my mind focused and get ready to play.”
He typically wears headphones and puts his iPod on shuffle. He calls himself “diverse” with music and likes many types. His favorite album is “Tha Carter II” by Lil Wayne and he makes sure to listen to that right before the game.
Sometimes he will put on his uniform and dribble in front of a mirror before games, to help him focus. He also said he has to shower before playing.
“I don’t do anything crazy like eat 10 Snickers, I just keep it very simple,” he said with a laugh.
Peterson said he has been playing basketball for some time now but he really started liking it after his freshman year in high school. That was his first year in organized basketball.
His success continued to increase each year, and he had a growth spurt to help him out in his junior year. “When I hit that, my game just elevated with my height,” he said.
Peterson said he tries to play like his favorite basketball player, Jamal Crawford from the Atlanta Hawks.
“He is an exciting guard and just does a lot of things that I don’t see a lot of people 6-foot-6 do,” he said. “I like his ball handling and the confidence he has on the court.”
Star player Tia Morrison of the women’s basketball team is one of Peterson’s roommates.
“He’s just a funny guy and he like to talk a lot,” Morrison said with a smile. “Sometimes we gotta tell him to shut up.”
Both will be closing out the season on Feb. 26 and most likely be in the post season.
By Chris Beck
Coming off an upset on its home court, the Pima Community College men’s basketball team struggled to a three-game losing streak but recoiled with a win to end that skid.
The Aztecs lost to Arizona Western College 68-79 on Jan. 27 and then to Phoenix College 72-85 on Jan. 30, leaving Pima with a 11-10 record at the end of January.
On Feb. 3, Pima took the Eastern Arizona College Gila Monsters into overtime but were edged out, losing 110-116. Pima’s Travares Peterson led the Aztecs with 26 points and five rebounds in the high-scoring thriller.
“I don’t think anything went wrong,” said head coach Karl Pieroway about the three-game losing streak.
“What happened is that we played three really good teams. This conference is like that, you are going to lose three in a row, win three in a row. You have to keep coming to work and can’t get discouraged.”
To end the three-game losing streak, Pima beat Scottsdale Community College 99-83 on Feb. 6, on the road.
Warren Baker led the Aztecs in scoring with 21 points, including four bombs from beyond the 3-point line. Coree Aten contributed to the win with 18 points, matching Baker with four 3-pointers.
PCC freshman Ervin Felder had a career night, boasting a double-double, dropping 14 points and grabbing 16 rebounds.
“It was Coree who helped me,” Felder said. “He talked to me and got me goin’ and playing well.”
Peterson added 20 points, boosting his season average to 18.5 points a game, which is good for 6th highest average in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference.
After two huge games, Peterson was named the ACCAC Div. II Player of the Week. This is the second time this season he has earned the honor making him a standout in the conference.
“He’s a great player, an absolute slasher, scorer,” Pieroway said about Peterson. “He’s got three or four pretty good offers from Division II schools, he’ll play next year.”
With Peterson’s help, Pima withheld its spot on top of the ACCAC in points per game (91.0) and free throw percentage (74.6 percent). The Aztecs are also second in the conference in field goal percentage, making the team an offensive force to be reckoned with.
The win over Scottsdale broke Pima’s .500 record, moving the squad to 12-11 overall, with a 7-9 record in the ACCAC. This puts the Aztecs at the top of the Division II side of the ACCAC, tied with Scottsdale, Glendale and Phoenix.
“We are tied for first but only two games out from being in last,” Pieroway said. “That’s the league.”
The Aztecs now have six games left, over the next three weeks, to finish the regular season. After that, the top four teams in ACCAC Div. II will make the playoffs.
When asked about his hopes for the postseason, Felder was not shy. “We want nationals.”
By James Kelley and Eric Townsend
The Pima Community College women’s basketball team’s bid for a historic win came up just short.
The No. 11 Aztecs (18-7, 13-4 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) hosted super power No. 8 Central Arizona College on Feb. 10 seeking to snap the Vaqueras’ 144 ACCAC game win streak but came up short, falling 75-72.
Central led most of the game, by as much as 13, but Pima’s furious rally cut the lead to one with nine seconds left. CAC was able to sink their free throws and the Aztecs’ final three-point try by sophomore guard Nene Villalobos fell short.
Two-time reigning ACCAC player of the week sophomore forward Tia Morrison led all scorers with 19 and pulled down 13 rebounds. Sophomore guard Abyee Maracigan added 16 points while sophomore guard Jessica Jones scored 13.
Pima gave Central Arizona a run for its money earlier in the season, also losing by three points.
Central, defending Division I national champions, and Pima are the top two teams in the conference.
In Division II, the Aztecs are the leader at 18-6. They currently hold a two-game lead over Scottsdale Community College with five games remaining in the regular season.
After steamrolling past Eastern Arizona College for a 102-36 win on Feb. 3, the Aztecs had a downfall at Scottsdale Feb. 6.
The Fighting Artichokes handily beat Pima, 69-52. Morrison scored 25 points and pulled in 17 rebounds.
“We were out of sync and we never got in a rhythm,” head coach Todd Holthaus said. “We just didn’t shoot well and Scottsdale played a great game and is hot right now.
All 12 players on the Aztec roster scored in the 66-point win over the Gila Monsters.
Morrison led all scorers with 25 points, and Jones chipped in with 13. Maracigan nearly earned a triple double in the game, registering 11 points, 10 rebounds and eight steals.
Pima next travels to Chandler-Gilbert Community College on Feb. 13, then plays at Glendale Community College on Feb. 17 before returning home to play Yavapai College at 2 p.m. on Feb. 20 at the West Campus Gym.