Pima Community College sports

No. 7 Pima women to face No. 10 North Central Missouri in NJCAA DII Tournament first round

The Pima College women’s basketball team met the expectations of its coaching staff with a No. 7 seed in the NJCAA Division II national tournament bracket that was revealed Tuesday afternoon.

The Aztecs (25-7) will play No. 10 North Central Missouri (23-6) in a first-round game on March 21 at 10 a.m. (Tucson time) at Purt Huron, Mich.

“We landed probably where I thought we would land,” said Pima coach Todd Holthaus, who is leading his eighth team to the national tournament in his 16 years as coach. “We finished 10th in the last poll and seven of the top 10 teams made it. Looks like that’s kind of how they did it.

“You always want to avoid being the 8 (seed) because in the second round, you’re playing the 1, so anything below 8, I’m good with.”

The No. 1 seed is Cicero (Ill.) Morton College, which is 31-0 including victories over ACCAC opponents Central Arizona and Mesa.

If Pima defeats North Central Missouri, it will play the winner of No. 2 Community College of Baltimore (Md.) County (32-1) and No. 15 Grand Rapids, Mich., (19-8) in a quarterfinal game March 22 at 5 p.m. Tucson time.

“It’s kind of a new experience for all of us,” said third-year point guard Angel Addleman, a graduate of Palo Verde. “I’m really excited. Now, it’s just one game at a time and these are the best teams so we’re excited to be challenged and have this experience together.”

Addleman and fellow guard Luisa Chavez of Rio Rico have three years of eligibility rather than the common two years at junior college because of COVID-19 affecting their freshman season in 2020-21.

Pima played only five regular-season games that year because of pandemic restrictions. The Aztecs won a district championship game in Dallas, qualifying for the national tournament in Hickory, N.C., where they were eliminated in the first round.

Addleman suffered a torn ACL late last season and Pima lost to Mesa in the region championship game.

“They have a little bit of experience (in the national tournament),” Holthaus said of Addleman and Chavez. “The biggest thing I try to keep it is as normal as possible. Enjoy your time there because it is a memory you’ll remember forever. The approach is the same when we’re at home basketballwise and we’ll try to have some fun on the side.”

The Aztecs learned of their tournament seeding and position in the bracket at a watch party in the West Campus Gym.

By winning the Region I Division II title last weekend over Scottsdale, they already knew they were in the national tournament.

That’s why the Aztecs when they saw their name on the screen did not have a crazed reaction. They applauded loud and Holthaus said “Yeah!” behind where they sat.

“I’m really grateful and thankful that we’re No. 7,” said sophomore forward Matehya Aberle, who is a niece of former Arizona player Cliff Johns. “It’s just a matter of practicing and going to work.”


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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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