The ability of Abram Carrasco to score 12 points to break the Pima Community College men’s basketball career scoring record did not come easy Wednesday night with Glendale utilizing a box-and-one against the Aztecs’ scoring threat.
But symbolic of the game, No. 1 Pima was not going to be denied because its leader Carrasco “never backs down to nobody,” teammate Rashad Smith said after Aztecs’ dominating 101-77 victory in front of a near-capacity crowd at the Aztec West Gym.
Carrasco needed the 12 points to break the record of 1,240 points set by former Sunnyside High School and Arizona player Greg Cook in 1978-79 and 1979-80. The former Cholla standout is now at 1,241 points heading into Friday night’s NJCAA Region I, Division II final against Scottsdale Community College.
History made: Abram Carrasco with the bucket, breaking Greg Cook's career scoring record at Pima. pic.twitter.com/cLSDi4uegN
Carrasco, who was held to two points in the first half because of the box-and-one, broke free in the second half after he helped set up his teammates with five assists. Showing their balance, the Aztecs managed to pull away by the time Carrasco broke the record with 9:02 left in the game on an aggressive floater in the lane to give the Aztecs a 77-45 lead.
“It feels good for a hometowner to do it, so that’s another thing,” said Carrasco. “It feels good to be at Tucson (at Aztec Gym) and to break the record.”
Of the swooping one-hander in the lane to break Cook’s record, Carrasco added, “They told me on the sideline that I needed one more bucket. … It feel good, yeah, for sure.”
“It means a lot to go No. 1 in the record books, so every time I come here I’ll know that until who ever else is ever to break it. It’s just a good feeling.”
Pima coach Brian Peabody put in his reserves with almost 7 minutes remaining in the game and Pima well ahead. That allowed the crowd to focus on Carrasco as he walked off the court. Peabody waited for Carrasco and gave him a hug before he sat down.
“He was just saying that he was really proud of me, and then just keep doing what I’m doing,” Carrasco said.
“If anybody deserves (the scoring record), he does,” Peabody said. “I’m just happy for him because he’s worked his tail off and matured on and off the court. … They played a box-and-one on him for five to 10 minutes and he didn’t try to force things and he got everybody involved.
“He was okay with what happened. He just wanted to win at the end of the game. That just shows a lot of character on his part.”
.@PimaMens_bball guard Abram Carrasco talks about being the school's career scoring leader at 1,421, breaking the 39-year record of 1,420 held by former Sunnyside and Arizona player Greg Cook. pic.twitter.com/w8Plxbn4nn
Pima was able to pick up the slack left from Carrasco scoring nine points below his average. The Aztecs have never been more healthy this season with previously injured players such as Davonte Eason (Tucson High) and Cole Gerken (Ironwood Ridge) playing meaningful minutes.
Peabody remarked that Pima’s numbers and fresh legs helped the Aztecs play “by far the best game defensively that we’ve played.”
They held Glendale to 32 percent shooting from the field in the pivotal first half in which Pima took a 36-20 lead despite Carrasco’s lack of scoring. The Gauchos made 14 of 34 from 3-point range and made only 12 field goals within the arc the entire game. They were 12 of 29 on 2-point shots.
“I was really happy. The guys listened to the scout (report),” Peabody said. “We wanted to make other people beat us beside No. 4 (Joshuwan Johnson), who is scoring about 20 points a game. I don’t know what he ended up with, but not very many.”
.@PimaMens_bball freshman Rashad Smith not thinking about breaking school career scoring record of Abram Carrasco with the regional final Friday against Scottsdale at Pima but still fun to think about it with another year ahead. pic.twitter.com/aISdEH5mBC
Johnson, who is averaging 18 points a game, finished with only six points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field with Carrasco and Jordan Robinson (Tucson High) on him mostly.
Pima’s focus now shifts to Scottsdale, which won a 75-73 thriller in double-overtime over Chandler-Gilbert on Wednesday night.
The Aztecs (25-6) swept the regular season series against Scottsdale (20-11) with a 91-65 win on the road on Feb. 6 and a 104-87 victory at home on Dec. 8.
Kennedy Koehler had 23 points and 14 rebounds in the first game while Carrasco had a team-high 27 points and eight assists. Rob Wilson (Salpointe) added 24 points, five rebounds and six assists.
In the second game, Carrasco had 25 points and eight rebounds while Koehler (14 points and 10 rebounds) and Wilson (13 points and 10 rebounds) had double-doubles.
In the win over Glendale on Wednesday night, Smith stepped forward with his 21 points, six rebounds and five assists. Koehler had another double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds and Gerken had 12 points while making 4 of 5 from 3-point range.
“I’ve seen that they were shutting down our top scorer, Abram, and I’ve just seen that somebody had to step up,” Smith said. “So I had to make a couple of shots for the team and it started to work out.”
.@PimaMens_bball freshman standout Rashad Smith, who led the Aztecs with 21 points in the regional semifinal win over Glendale, talks about how he helped his team pull away after the Gauchos tried to slow the pace early. pic.twitter.com/ttbe0ZZEqB