Pima Community College sports

Pima women improve to 12-4 behind new leadership, young talent

Pima’s Dominique Acosta has developed into a leader for Todd Holthaus’ team that is 12-4 overall and 7-2 in the ACCAC (Stephanie van Latum/Special to AllSportsTucson.com)

On Jan. 11 a year ago, Pima defeated visiting Arizona Western in overtime with each of its starters tallying at least 33 minutes of playing time.

None of those players — Angel Addleman, Priscila Varela, Luisayde Chavez, Matehya Aberle and Torrance Begay — are still with the Aztecs.

Addleman is with Ottawa (Arizona). Varela is at Idaho State. Chavez and Aberle are teammates at Fort Lewis (Colo.) College.

Pima’s starters Wednesday night in its 80-34 rout of Chandler-Gilbert at the Aztec West Gym included a starting lineup that featured four freshmen and one returner from last season — Nogales grad Dominique Acosta.

Acosta led the team with 18 points against Chandler-Gilbert, shooting 9 for 14 from the field with six rebounds and two steals.

The four reserves with the most minutes were all freshmen.

Pima has 12 freshmen among its 16 players listed on the roster.

Pima coach Todd Holthaus and his staff that rivals any at the junior college level in the nation — Jim Rosborough, Pete Fajardo, Felicia Greenhouse and Pima and Palo Verde great Sydni Stallworth — have done a basketball version of “Extreme Makeover” to the tune of a 12-4 record overall and 7-2 in the ACCAC.

“With 12 freshmen, just learning the game and being patient with them is one thing, and then them just absorbing what they’re being taught,” Holthaus said.

Freshman point guard sensation Rylei Waugh is one of the top players in the ACCAC who hails from Los Angeles Westchester High School, the same school that produced Hassan Adams and Jordin Mayes for the Arizona men’s basketball program.

Adams played for Rosborough and Lute Olson at Arizona.

Now, Rosborough has the opportunity to coach Waugh, who led Westchester to the Los Angeles City Section Open Division championship last season.

“Coming from Los Angeles, I played a lot of tough competition with big girls,” Waugh said. “It kind of makes you tough. Coming here, I was already prepared for the competition and the hard coaching.

“I definitely wasn’t fazed coming to Arizona.”

Waugh landed at Pima College because she is related to a former football player with the Aztecs and her father knew of Holthaus from their college backgrounds.

The 5-foot-6 playmaker is averaging 16.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game.

Acosta, who at 6-foot-1 originally attended Pima as a high jumper with the track and field team, is posting averages of 13.4 points and 8.3 rebounds a game while shooting 53.4 percent from the field.

“I have improved with more self confidence into the team and to myself,” said Acosta, who started six games last year and averaged 8.3 points and 6.9 rebounds a game and shot 45.6 percent from the field.

“Just picking up the pace, trying to pick everyone up — it’s been really important.”

Acosta and freshman forward Rori Hoffmeyer are a productive pair.

Hoffmeyer, of Yuma Cibola, is averaging 7.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. She had a double-double (13 points and 11 rebounds) with six assists in Wednesday’s win over Chandler-Gilbert (8-8, 3-5).

Holthaus can also call upon his daughter Annalise Holthaus of Ironwood Ridge, Tucson High graduate Gabriella Sanchez (presently out with an injury), Tayden Hanks and Jordan Joe for contributions in the paint.

Joe is the only returner out of this group, which is raw in experience but is skilled.

Pima is averaging 51 rebounds a game with a remarkable margin of 14.7 over opponents.

“We’ve probably had more post depth than we’ve had in many years,” Todd Holthaus said. “Being able to go to four or five kids in the post is very helpful because your getting close shots, a better percentage shot. … I have no hesitation putting anyone in.”

As one of four sophomores who is a starter and producing the most on the team, Acosta is the identifiable leader.

She learned her new role practicing against and playing with Aberle and Begay last season and observing how they handled the day-to-day demands of being reliable players at the post.

“Last year, there were a lot of good role models,” Acosta said. “It took a while getting to know a freshly new team … it just took some time for every one to have a part to contribute to the team.

“That’s what really helps — it’s been easy to talk with everyone.”

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The Aztecs opened up a double digit lead late in the first quarter against Chandler-Gilbert and carried it over in their win on Wednesday.

Up 17-5 after the first quarter, the Aztecs went on a 13-2 run to make it 30-7. They led 32-12 at halftime.

The Aztecs outscored the Coyotes 48-22 in the second half.

Waugh had 12 points to go with four assists and three rebounds.

Freshman Sage Begay, of Flagstaff High School, scored seven points off the bench. Freshmen Gabby Lopez (Bisbee) and Annalise Holthaus (Ironwood Ridge) each grabbed seven rebounds.

The Aztecs will hit the road to Yuma on Saturday when they play at Arizona Western College. Game time is set for 2:00 p.m.


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 in 2016 and is presently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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