The Las Positas and Diablo Valley men’s basketball teams met in a local showcase Friday night, and the host Hawks had too much firepower in an 87-71 win in the second round of the CCCAA Northern California Regional playoffs.
Clearly, the Hawks (22-7) feel like they’re peaking at a great time.
“Oh yes, definitely,” standout sophomore guard Caleb Baskett said. “That was a good effort out there tonight. Practice has been going well lately and we think we’re jelling on both sides of the court.”
The Hawks (22-7), seeded seventh, rode the sensational 3-point shooting of substitute Nick Evans in the first half to pry open the DVC defense after the Vikings took an early 15-12 lead.
One exceedingly deep Evans' 3 seemed to come from Oakley, giving the Hawks a 24-18 lead.
"I think he (coach James Giacomazzi) put me in at just the right time," said Evans, who had 15 points on five 3s. "I was really feeling it in warmups."
Las Positas will travel No. 2 Feather River, a 114-76 winner over No. 15 Sierra, in the third round on Saturday. The Hawks are one win away from advancing to the eight-team state finals, hosted by Las Positas.
Playing at home in the Elite Eight would be extra special for the sophomores. They're driven to make that happen.
“Oh, very driven,” said Stokley Chaffee Jr., who ranks seventh in the state averaging 10.1 rebounds a game. “Home court … Home court advantage … Championship … Put a banner up for the first time … It’s exciting. I think we’re on the right track. I’m ready. We’re ready. Everybody’s ready.”
Kameron Johnson led the balanced Hawks with 18 points against well-coached DVC. The skillful Baskett had 17 points, center Donald Mims had 13, and Keith Hunter 12.
But a lock-down defense, with the 7-foot-0 Mims patrolling the paint, was a huge component of the victory.
“Defense wins championships,” Baskett said.
“I think the main thing we had to do was defense, that was key to winning the game,” said Evans.
The Hawks welcome the challenge of having to face powerful Feather River. They’ve beaten the likes of CCSF in the bruising Coast Conference-North.
“We know they’re good, but we’re not scared of anybody,” Chaffee said. “We’re ready for everybody.”
LET FREEDOM RING: The freshman Evans matched up with against a familiar face Friday night.
DVC floor leader Rodney Pope and Evans were teammates at Freedom High and in AAU ball growing up.
Evans and Pope were among the standouts on the powerful Freedom squad, which finished No. 2 in the 2014 CIF Northern California Division I playoffs. Thus, Friday’s game attracted Freedom coach Drew Torres and some other Falcons players. The Freedom contingent wasn’t disappointed as both Evans and Pope had their moments, each giving their fans a treat.
“I thought it was interesting. I had never gone up against him before,” Evans said of facing Pope. “I’ve always played with him ever since AAU and high school, so I thought that was fun … He definitely had a great performance tonight.”
Pope was impressed with the Hawks, who are packed with players heading to the four-year level.
“It was just hard going against all of them,” Pope said. “I think I got good shots and good looks and I played a good game, but it just wasn’t good enough.”
COACHES CORNER: Dougherty Valley coach Mike Hansen was also in the crowd Friday night, watching his former player Jushan Samra, the Hawks' 6-4 freshman forward. Hansen seemed highly impressed with the Hawks’ play.
COAST-NORTH POWER: How tough is the Coast-North Conference? A quick look at the state playoff scores tells the tale: No. 7 Las Positas 87, No. 10 DVC 71; No. 5 Canada-Redwood City 73, No. 12 San Joaquin Delta 52; No. 11 Ohlone 69, No. 6 Santa Rosa 61; No. 1 CCSF 65, No. 17 Cabrillo 61 Four of the Hawks’ five conference losses this season came against Ohlone and Canada, and the other was to No. 1 seed and reigning state champion CCSF.
-- Matt Schwab