Pima beat Scottsdale 59-50 to advance to the NJCAA National Tournament

(Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

Down 21-13 after the first ten minutes of play to No. 3 Scottsdale, No. 1 Pima went on a 29-11 run to take a 42-32 lead heading into the final ten minutes of play at the Region I, Division II championship game held at Pima West Saturday night. The defense shifted momentum and the Aztecs went on to capture the eighth region title in program history with a 59-50 victory.

“We’ve kind of hung our hat on defense,” Pima head coach Todd Holthaus explained, “We just had to stay the course because Scottsdale was pumped up. They were excited. They really had nothing to lose, coming to our house. We’re the one seed and we just had to stay the course and do what we do and we just saw it just kind of slowly wear them down.”

The Aztecs won region titles in 1994, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2016, 2019, 2020 and now 2023, but this one looked to be in serious doubt early on when Malia Ukestine hit a 3-pointer, made two free throws, and then hit another 3 to pace the Fighting Artichokes to an 8-0 lead less than three minutes in. Ukestine would only score three more points the rest of the way. Still, the Division II Freshman of the Year, in Scottsdale standout Danay Williams, scored six points to keep the Aztecs at bay with a 21-13 lead after the first quarter. Williams would only score two more points the rest of the way.

The Aztecs went on a 9-0 run to start the second quarter and Luisa Chavez capped off the streak with a deep 3 to give Pima a 22-21 lead with 4:43 left in the half but turnovers and several misses stalled the Aztec offense and the team wouldn’t score again until Chavez hit another 3 with 7:56 left in the third quarter to cut the Artichoke lead down to 27-25.

Torrance Begay finished the night with a game-high 14 rebounds and she made two free throws with 6:32 left in the third quarter to tie the game back up at 29-29 and then Angel Addleman scored 30 seconds later and the Aztecs took a 31-29 lead. It was a lead the team would never give up.

Pima led 42-32 after three periods and then Addleman and Chavez took over to help lead the team to a 54-40 lead with 4:48 left. The Artichokes started fighting again and the team went on a 10-2 run to cut the lead down to 56-50 with 2:08 left but a couple of free throws from Taina Lee and another from Chavez sealed the 59-50 victory.

“This team does such a good job of taking care of each other,” Holthaus added. “Like I told them, I just wanted this for them because they deserve it. We’ve gone through life, battled through injuries and lost people and there was always someone else would step up. They’re just good to each other.”

Scottsdale was led by Ukestine and her 11 points, Faith Diggs had nine, Talia Dial hand nine and Williams had eight. Williams also pulled down nine rebounds as did Cassidee Meyer. For Pima, Chavez had 16 points with 11 rebounds, Addleman had 16 points with seven rebounds and Begay had 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Addleman was named tournament MVP for her efforts at the point. The NJCAA Division II National Championship will be held from March 21-25 at Port Huron, Michigan. The season comes to an end for Scottsdale but the NJCAA will utilize an at-large system next year.


Legendary referee Bob Scofield took in the championship as did former Arizona standout Reshea Bristol, who is also making her way up college referee ladder.

Former Wildcat Eugene Edgerson was also in attendance as a Pima Community College law enforcement officer.


Named one of “Arizona’s Heart & Sol” by KOLD and Casino del Sol, Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017 and a 2019 AZ Education News recognition. He was a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling and his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is a Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019, became a member of the Sunnyside Los Mezquites Cross Country Hall of Fame in 2021 and he was a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee. He earned a Distinguished Service Award from Amphitheater and he was recognized by City Councilman Richard Fimbres. Contact Andy Morales at amoralesmytucson@yahoo.com

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