Pima Finishes Runner-Up For National Title

by Anthony Ray | Posted on Saturday, March 24th, 2018

The Pima Junior College men's basketball program brought a lot of respect to the state of Arizona this season, after coming up just short of winning the Division-II National Championsip.  The #2 overall seed of the national tournament, Pima more than lived up to their billing and finished as the runner-up for the national championship, falling at the hands of #1 seeded Triton College (IL) 89-85.

The Pima team saved their best performance for the right time of the season, and played their best basketball of the year in the national tournament.  In the championship game, Pima went on a 18-4 run in the final five and a half minutes of the game to take the lead at 44-43.  With ten minutes left to play in the contest, Triton went on a big 11-4 run of their own to give them a 62-57 lead over Pima, but the Aztecs responded right back with an 8-2 run to retake the lead at 65-64.

Pima would take their biggest lead of the contest after sophomore guard Keven Biggs hit a three-pointer to make it 70-66 with 6 minutes left to play.  Triton capitalized on a couple turnovers by Pima and went on a late 11-0 run to take a 79-71 advantage with 1:52 remaining.  After making free-throws down the stretch, Triton would finish off the championship win.

Pima sophomore Alize Travis finished with a team-high 22 points with 10 rebounds and 8 assists. Biggs and sophomore guard Isaiah Murphy each finished with 16 points and 4 assists in the loss.  After the game, Travis, Murphy and freshman Jeremiah Bailey were named to the NJCAA Division-II All-Tournament team.

Pima JC, my alma mater, finished the season with a 31-5 overall record this season, after winning 22 games last season and also achieving back-to-back trips to the NJCAA Division-II Tournament.  Head coach Brian Peabody has been regarded as one of the state's elite coaches for a long time, and this weekend he sealed his regard as one of the top overall coaches to ever coach in this state.  A born leader, Peabody has always maximized his level of talent and gotten the most out of his players.  Last season he turned Deion James into the nation's Division-II Player of the Year, and this season he almost won it all without a superstar.

Pima won their second-straight Region-I, Division-II ACCAC Conference Title this season in the process.  Pima now, behind the leadership of Peabody and his quality staff, will look to become the class of the ACCAC Divison for the future, after Phoenix College has held the title for so long.  It will make for an amazing season next year as Pima looks to take over the league consistently.  Only time will tell, but Peabody has definitely done an amazing job up to this point.

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