Pima Rolls onto Third Straight Regional Championship

Pima Rolls onto Third Straight Regional Championship


The Pima Community College Men’s Basketball team dominated Scottsdale Community College March 8 to win its third straight NJCAA Region 1, Division II championship.

March 8 vs. Scottsdale CC 107-73 

The No. 1-ranked Aztecs defeated the two-seeded Scottsdale Community College 107-73 to win the NJCAA Region I, Division II championship. 

The Aztecs started the game hot shooting for 7 from the field and took a 27-8 lead, which forced the Fighting Artichokes to call a timeout six-and-a-half minutes into the first half. 

Pima took a commanding 60-36 lead at halftime after shooting 70 percent (23 for 33) from the field and hitting 8 three-pointers. 

“We knew we had to come out strong and set the tone and not let them (Scottsdale) believe they had a chance to win,” said freshman guard Jordan Robinson (16 points and 4 assists). 

Fellow freshman Rashad Smith had 17 points, while sophomore Kennedy Koehler had his 19th double-double, pouring in 22 points and 13 rebounds. 

Sophomores Abram Carrasco (14 points and 7 assists) and Robert Wilson (21 points and 10 rebounds) were named co-MVPs of the game.

The Aztecs finished the season with a home record of 19-2. 

“These guys worked hard all year and put in a lot of time to get back to Illinois and compete for a national championship,” said head coach Brian Peabody. “They’ve stayed ready and they’ll continue to stay ready.” 

“Last year, we came up short. This year, we believe we have the talent and ability to bring a national championship back,” Koehler said.  

March 6 vs. Glendale CC 101-77

The No. 1-seeded Pima Community College Men’s Basketball team defeated the No. 4 seed Glendale Community College Gauchos 101-77 to advance to its third straight NJCAA Region I, Division II final.

The Gauchos attempted to slow down the Aztecs but fell into a 36-20 deficit at the end of the first half.

The Aztecs then began the second half on a 10-0 run and were up by as many as 41 points in the second half.     

Smith finished the game, leading all scorers with 21 points. Smith also had 6 rebounds and 5 assists. 

Sophomores Robert Wilson (10 points and seven rebounds) and Koehler (14 points and 10 rebounds) came up big in the paint for the Aztecs. Freshman Cole Gerken produced 12 points off the bench. 

But perhaps the biggest takeaway from the showdown was Carrasco’s 12th point with 9:02 left in the second half. Carrasco’s fifth and final bucket of the game put him at 1,241 career points, officially breaking Pima’s 39-year-old all-time scoring record previously held by Greg Cook and his 1,240 points set in 1980. Carrasco also had 5 rebounds and 5 assists. 

“It means a lot,” Carrasco said. “To do it on our home floor with this team, it feels special.” 

The Aztecs improved their overall record to 25-6 and their home record to 18-2. 

Feb. 26 vs. Glendale CC 79-58 

The No. 9-ranked Pima team defeated Glendale Community College to end the regular season in satisfying fashion. 

The win gave the Aztecs a conference record of 17-5, the second best in program history.

Carrasco led the Aztecs in scoring with 18 points. 

Another sophomore, Koehler, notched his 17th double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds. 

Freshmen Deondre Eason (14 points and 7 rebounds), Dylan Newell (6 points and 6 rebounds) and Nick Rosquist (4 assists and 4 steals) came up big for the Aztecs off the bench.

Sophomore Travis Walker also provided valuable minutes for the Aztecs off the bench with 13 points on 50 percent shooting. 

“The bench really came up big for us tonight,” Peabody said. “Everyone was ready and that’s all you can ask from these guys.”