Pima Community College sports

Pima’s Holthaus earns 500th career victory in Aztecs’ first-round win in NJCAA DII tourney

Pima College’s media-relations department contributed to this report:

No. 7 Pima College defeated No. 10 North Central Missouri 69-66 Tuesday in the opening round of the NJCAA Division II tournament, earning coach Todd Holthaus his 500th career victory as a head coach.

Holthaus is 500-223 in 23 years of coaching — 16 at Pima and seven at Flowing Wells High School.

“I’m real proud of the kids because any team at nationals is going to be good,” Holthaus said. “Seeding is a number, it doesn’t really reflect how good a team is. North Central Missouri was sophomore-laden with kids who had been at nationals last year. This is something that they’re used to, and ready for and they gave us everything they could in the first half.

“They hit six 3-pointers, it got us behind, but you know what, the personality of this team came through in the end. That’s all I asked them for; just keeping playing defense, make it tough on them. We’re a little bit deeper so we could get into their bench a little bit and I felt we were a little frustrated at the end and we pulled away just in time.”

Pima (26-7) advances to the second round Wednesday at 5 p.m., when the Aztecs will play No. 2 Community College of Baltimore County (33-1)

CCBC defeated No. 15 Grand Rapids 87-40 in its first-round game Tuesday at noon.

The tournament is being played at Port Huron, Mich.

In the victory over North Central Missouri, Palo Verde graduate Angel Addleman scored Pima’s last six points after the Aztecs trailed 64-63 with 3:02 left.

Addleman, who finished with 20 points and eight rebounds, broke a scoreless stretch of 3:38 for the Aztecs with a layup with 1:18 remaining to give them a 65-64 lead.

After Addleman made two free throws with 51 seconds remaining, Nora Ford converted two free throws with 44 seconds left to cut Pima’s lead to 67-66.

Ford’s free throws ended a scoring drought of 2:18 for the Pirates, who failed to make a field goal in the last 4:31 of the game.

Addleman’s layup with 17 seconds left increased Pima’s lead to 69-66.

North Central Missouri (23-7) had three attempts, including one from 3-point range, in the last 13 seconds but missed.

Pima, which never had more than a three-point lead in the game, rallied from a 14-point deficit in the first half.

“We had a rough start but we just kept chipping away and that’s what we told each other in the huddle, just ‘we got to get defensive stops,’” Addleman said. “We needed offensive rebounds and we needed to get the hand out of the shoes because they were hitting a lot in the first half. Mainly defensive stops and moving the ball were our adjustments, getting it inside because that’s our strong suit.”

The Aztecs outrebounded the Pirates 46-35 and outscored North Central Missouri 15-9 in second-chance points.

Torrance Begay had a double-double (13 points and 13 rebounds), Matehya Aberle had 14 points and five rebounds and Luisa Chavez (Rio Rico graduate) finished with 12 points and six rebounds.

Aiona Johnson also had seven rebounds to go with her eight points.

 “I told the girls, our strength is in the paint,” Holthaus said. “We can shoot the three, but we’re better at shooting the three when we pound in the paint and kind of soften up the interior a bit. Let Matehya go to work, let Torrance go to work, let Dom (Dominique Acosta of Nogales) go to work.”

North Central Missouri was led by Ford’s 28 points and 10 rebounds.

Pima is trying to win its first women’s basketball championship in program history.

Holthaus is coaching his eighth team in the national tournament in his 16 years with the program.

The Aztecs came a victory away from winning the championship in 2010-11.

His teams have also finished third (2008-09 and 2015-16) and fifth (2009-10 and 2018-19).

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