The Pima College women’s basketball team will begin its quest for its first national title next Tuesday as the No. 7 seed in the NJCAA Division II tournament at Port Huron, Mich.
Port Huron is about 60 miles northeast of Detroit on the shore of Lake Huron.
The Aztecs (25-7) will open against No. 10 seed Edison State of Piqua, Ohio. The Chargers (28-3) have a roster comprised of players from Ohio. They will enter the game on a 10-game winning streak, including an 80-76 win Saturday over Lakeland (Ohio) College in the regional championship.
Pima will play in its sixth national tournament under Todd Holthaus, who has coached the Aztecs since 2007-08. The Aztecs finished as the runner-up in the 2010-11 tournament, third place in 2008-09 and 2015-16 and fifth place in 2009-10 and last season.
The Aztecs are coming off a historic win Saturday over Mesa in the regional championship. It is the first time in the rivalry between Pima and Mesa that the road team claimed victory in the regional finals. They have met in the finals in 11 of the last 12 years.
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Former Marana standout Alyssa Perez shot 6 for 9 from the floor with 17 points to go along with seven rebounds against Mesa. She was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Sophomore Haile Gleason of Kirtland, N.M., and freshman Sierra Mich’l of Las Vegas combined to score 30 points off the bench. Gleason finished with 17 points shooting 6 for 10 from the field and 3 of 6 from behind the arc. Mich’l scored 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting along with seven rebounds and three blocks.
Sophomore forward Hallie Lawson of Gilbert Campo Verde leads the Aztecs scoring 13.6 points per game and Perez is next at 10.7. Lawson is the leading rebounder with 7.0 a game. Mich’l averages 6.6. Freshman Aaliyah Ortiz of Palo Verde leads the team with 4.0 assists per game. Fellow freshman Fama Thiam of Senegal is next at 3.8 assists per game.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.