Mesa CC, CAC pull down conference hoops honors

A couple of local basketball players decided to stay home after high school and lend their talents to Arizona colleges.  And now it has paid off handsomely for each.

And for their schools.  And for their coaches.  It’s called the ‘trickle-down’ effect.

Olivia Major, a sophomore who arrived at Central Arizona College from Washington High School in Phoenix, was named the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference (ACCAC) Player of the Year.  Stephen Rogers, a graduate of Mesa’s Mountain View High School and a freshman at  Mesa Community College, is the mens’ ACCAC Player of the Year.

Majors’ coach, Denise Cardenas, and Rogers’ coach, Sam Ballard, were each named Coach of  the Year.  Cardenas is in her second year as CAC head coach and has guided the Vaqueras to a 28-2 record overall, 22-0 conference.  Ballard is also finishing up his second year at MCC, running up a 42-14 record.

Central Arizona College is the defending NJCAA national champion and has won a record 151 straight conference games, extending back to its last loss in 2003.  Mesa CC finished one game out of first place in the regular season, behind Cochise.

Rogers was the only player in the ACCAC to finish in the top 30 in five statistical categories, and in the top 10 in three of those categories.  He was second in scoring (21.3 ppg), fourth in free throw shooting (81 percent), and fifth in three-point percentage (42.7 percent).

Major ranked first in the ACCAC in scoring and is fourth in the nation with a 21.2 ppg average.  She is 40 percent from behind the arc, connecting on 128 of 320 three-point attempts.

Rogers was also the recipient of the men’s Freshman of the Year award, while Tanisia ‘TJ’ Manson from Arizona Western College was named Freshman of the Year for the women.  Manson is another local product, playing last year at Page High School.

Men’s first-team selections went to: Rogers, DJ Hamilton (CAC), Marcus Williams (Cochise), Andre Almeida (Western), Steve Jurich (Scottsdale CC), and James Ellisor (Glendale CC).  Women’s first-team selections: Major, Tia Morrison (Pima CC), Abyee Marcigan (Pima CC), Gianne Fleming (South Mountain CC), and Brianna Benjamin (Mesa CC).