Some might say 200 wins is a testament to longevity but, for the parents of Southern Arizona, 200 is a sign of commitment. It’s knowing their daughters are in good hands. It’s knowing they will be safe and they will learn next-level basketball by some of the very best in the game. That’s what they get when they send their girls to Todd Holthaus and his championship staff at Pima.
Heck, in many ways, the women on his court are our girls. Like all youth sports in Tucson, basketball is a tight-knit community and families have literally grown up playing with and against each other. Our reward (as fans) is the chance to watch them play together one last time – not for their various high schools – but for all of us.
Holthaus reached the 200-win mark Thursday night with a decisive 80-52 win over Gillette College of Wyoming on opening night of the Native American Classic taking place at Pima West. The game was tied 12-12 after the first quarter but the Aztecs went on a 21-4 run in the second quarter to take a 33-16 lead at the half.
The Pronghorns were held scoreless for over nine minutes in the quarter.
“We don’t have size like a lot of these teams but we are fast, we are deep and we are aggressive,” Holthaus said. “We learned to trust what we do. We can wear teams down and we grinded this win out against a quality opponent.”
Holthaus has coached seven All-Americans at Pima, with former Palo Verde standout Sydni Stallworth being his latest, but one never knows who will be called upon to change the tempo of a game. Holthaus pleaded for his team to hit the boards in the first quarter but to no avail. The Pronghorns took full advantage and kept the game close. Then came former Nogales standout Katie Bell.
Sure enough, Bell entered the game and she collected three quick rebounds. Her aggressiveness became contagious and Holthaus took it from there and ran Gillette off the court by going 14 deep. There is no better bench in college basketball. Who goes 14 deep?
It was Bell and former Cienega standout Denesia Smith (team-high 15 points) tonight but it could be Stallworth (10 points) or former Marana standout Moana Hala’ufia (6 offensive boards) tomorrow night.
Holthaus has had a lot of benches like that in his ten years at Pima. He also has the luxury of having legendary coach Jim Rosborough by his side along with longtime youth and high school coaches Chris Klassen and Pete Fajardo.
“This win made me reflect on all the teams I’ve had here,” Holthaus added. “I’ve been remembering and reminiscing. I wish they could all be here.”
I think they were.
Pima (3-1) will take on the Elite 1 Academy at 4 p.m. on Friday and the Pima men will play Salt Lake at 6 p.m.
Todd Holthaus Coaching File
Flowing Wells: 1998-2005 (160-64)
University of Arizona women’s basketball assistant coach: 2005-2007
Pima: 2007-present (200-99)
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Contact Andy Morales at AMoralesMyTucson@yahoo.com