Pima Community College sports

Pima’s 12 freshmen include coach Todd Holthaus’ daughter, five others from Southern Arizona

Sisters Annalise (second from left) and Makayla (right next to her) Holthaus played each other last week with Pima coach Todd Holthaus on the sideline. Annalise is a freshman with Pima and Makayla a junior with Ottawa-Arizona. Gabriella Sanchez, formerly of Tucson High, is the player on the far right (Stephanie van Latum/Special to AllSportsTucson.com)

Pima College’s Todd Holthaus is entering his 17th year as the Aztecs’ coach facing the challenge of having 12 freshmen on his roster, the most since his second season with the program in 2008-09.

That roster, which included all of his recruited players for the first time, had 10 freshmen to go with the two lone sophomores on the team that played for him in his first year — Cienega graduates Cristen Schweitzer and Courtney Payne.

Of the 10 freshmen in 2008-09, seven were from Southern Arizona

Five freshmen from Southern Arizona are among the 12 newcomers to the program this season.

One of them is his daughter Annalise, a 5-foot-11 Ironwood Ridge Class of 2023 graduate.

“What I’ve seen so far from our freshman is nothing but energy and excitement, persistency … I’m very encouraged,” said Holthaus, who is 314-152 in his career at Pima. “We have a lot of talent. We’ll probably make a lot of mistakes, but I can live with the mistakes based on the way we’ve played.”

Pima has played two exhibition games against a couple of NAIA schools in the Phoenix area — Ottawa and Benedictine — ahead of two more games that amount to scrimmages in San Diego on Friday. The Aztecs will play San Diego Mesa College at 1 p.m. and then Grossmont College at 5:30.

The regular season starts Nov. 4 at Pima West Gym against Community Christian College in an annual game that honors indigenous people. Tip-off for that game is at 7 p.m.

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Last week’s exhibition with Ottawa at Pima West Gym was a unique, special occasion for Holthaus and his family.

Holthaus coached Annalise against his oldest daughter Makayla, an Ironwood Ridge graduate who is a junior with Ottawa.

Annalise and Makayla worked for rebounding position against each other in parts of the game.

“I treated it pretty normal; I didn’t let myself say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s Annalise,” Makayla said.

“Except when she elbowed me,” Annalise joked.

“It was just like a normal game,” Makayla said. “It’s cool playing against your sister but it’s pretty normal.”

Annalise said she learned the most from her older sister to be tough on the court.

“We battle down in the paint so you have to be tough about it,” Annalise said.

Makayla talked about the possibility of joining her dad on Pima’s coaching staff when her college career is complete with the hope of being a coach down the road.

“I can see it, for sure,” Makayla said. “I’ve joked around with him about coming back to coach with him some time in the future when I’m done with school, but we’ll see how it goes.

“It’s definitely an option.”

The dynamic of coaching against his daughter was not a difficult one for Holthaus, who raised his kids around the game of basketball and its nuances.

“It’s easier than people realize because we’ve grown up that way,” Todd Holthaus said. “You still kind of pull for her. You still want her to be successful, but at the same time, we’ve got to get better, too.”

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The other Southern Arizona freshmen are guards Katie Burns (Catalina Foothills), Amelie Buffill-Gutierrez (Sabino) and Gabby Lopez (Bisbee) and post player Gabriella Sanchez (Tucson High).

Redshirt freshman guard Mattanaya Vital of Amphi is coming off an ACL tear from a year ago.

The four returning sophomores include Nogales graduate Dominique Acosta.

“I’ve always believed that if we can keep the best local kids here, we’ll be successful,” Todd Holthaus said. “It helps our crowd because the families will come watch. Just exciting to watch them play and grow up still in front of their families.”

The Aztecs also feature players from Queen Creek, Flagstaff and Yuma in addition to two from New Mexico, the Reece and Kennedi Niemann sisters from Wyoming, and guards from Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.

Rylei Waugh is a guard from Los Angeles Westchester High School.

SB Live (a branch of Sports Illustrated) rated Waugh one of the top 25 players in L.A. City Section girls basketball last year.

Pima freshman Rylie Waugh (dribbling the basketball) tries to drive past former Pima guard Angel Addleman (now with Ottawa-Arizona) in a game last week (Stephanie van Latum/Special to AllSportsTucson.com)

“Waugh has long been a consistent scorer and standout shooter with a high, quick release to go with solid handles and a deadly floater,” Lance Smith of SB Live wrote. “As an upperclassmen, what she has likely improved the most at is creating off the dribble, especially for others. Waugh has gotten more athletic throughout her high school career and is now able to get in downhill situations at will, as defenders have to respect her jumper. As a senior, she’s improved at reading the help early and finding an open teammate, and her team is much more dangerous for it.”

Holthaus mentioned that Pima athletic director Jim Monaco’s background as the Aztecs’ football coach played a factor in Waugh coming to Tucson.

Her cousin Rio Claytor played for Monaco in 2018 and 2019.

“Rio had a great experience at Pima and because of that, when Rylei didn’t get the offer she desired from a four-year university, she decided to bet on herself and go JUCO,” Holthaus mentioned. “After some phone conversations with her and her family, it was evident that there was an instant connection between her and I and she committed and signed without ever visiting our campus.”

Waugh knows of Holthaus’ history of advancing players to four-year schools.

Four members of last year’s team fit that description.

Palo Verde graduate Angel Addleman, Pima’s captain at point guard last year, is a teammate of Makayla’s at Ottawa.

Rio Rico alum Luisa Chavez and Matehya Aberle, a standout at power forward with Pima the last two years, are teammates at Fort Lewis (Colo.).

Priscila Varela, a guard, is with a Division 1 program at Idaho State.

“While they’re here it’s always fun to win and accomplish great things,” Holthaus said. “But the reality is I get a lot of satisfaction watching them go on and get their education and make the most of their four years.”


0Katie Burns GuardFr5-7Catalina Foothills
1Reece Niemann GuardFr6-0Cody (Wyo.)
2Rylei Waugh GuardFr5-6Los Angeles Westchester
4Mattanaya Vital GuardRFr5-5Amphitheater
10Amelie Buffill-Gutierrez GuardFr5-6Sabino
11Kennedi Niemann GuardFr5-7Cody (Wyo.)
12Dominique Acosta ForwardSo6-1Nogales
13Taina Lee GuardSo5-8Salt Lake City East
14Rayn Holton GuardSo5-8Queen Creek Casteel
20Gabby Lopez ForwardFr5-10Bisbee
23Jordan Joe ForwardSo5-11Gallup (NM)
24Sage Begay GuardFr5-8Flagstaff
30Rori Hoffmeyer Forward/PostFr6-2Yuma Cibola
33Tayden Hanks ForwardFr5-11Los Lunes (NM)
44Annalise Holthaus ForwardFr5-11Ironwood Ridge
50Gabriella Sanchez PostFr6-1Tucson
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