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HAWKS READY FOR BIG BASKETBALL SHOWDOWN WITH CCSF

In a marquee men's basketball showdown, Coast-North co-leaders Las Positas and City College of San Francisco will meet Wednesday night at the "Hawks Nest" in Livermore.

Las Positas (15-3, 3-0) is ranked 20th in the state, and the reigning state-champion Rams (18-1, 3-0) are No. 2. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. and be aired live on NorCal SportsTV.

"It's just a great opportunity," Las Positas coach James Giacomazzi said Tuesday of matchup. "Both teams are 3-0 heading into the game in conference. Obviously, it's a very big game. There should be a lot of interest; a lot of folks have been calling; a lot of people are gonna be at the game, I would suspect."

CCSF has won four games in a row in dominant fashion since a four-point loss to Cabrillo. The explosive Rams top the state averaging 90.9 points a game, and the Hawks, riding a seven-game winning streak, are at 84.4 ppg.

Las Positas is led by head-turning freshman Michael Hayes, a West High-Tracy graduate who is averaging 23.6 points a game (No. 3 in state) and 9.6 rebounds a game (No. 13 in state). He leads the conference in both categories.

Austin McCullough paces CCSF at 15.1 ppg. Malcolm Johnson is at 13.9 ppg and has a team-best 8.9 rebounds a game.

"They're very deep and they put an emphasis on the defensive side," Giacomazzi says of CCSF. "They really sit down and work together in their team defense and their team rebounding and what have you."

Giacomazzi added that CCSF is adept at converting missed shots and turnovers to baskets.

"That's where a four-point lead turns to 12 in a hurry," he says warily. "That's something that we need to be really cognizant of, is really valuing the basketball. Live ball turnovers are just killers."

Las Positas is coming off back-to-back wins last week over San Jose and Chabot. Hayes had 24 points and 12 boards against the Gladiators. Wesley Burse also came up big with 16 points and seven rebounds.

Hawks sophomore guard John Ketchel (Freedom High-Oakley) tops the state at 7.8 assists a game, to go with 10.7 ppg. Sophomore Alafaia Oluwosogo (American-Fremont) is No. 2 on the team in scoring at 11.9 ppg. Five others average about seven or eight points: Burse (8.9), Decaurey Brown (8.3), Alvon Marshall (7.1), Goose Persin (8.3), and Nana Appiah (7.8).

Giacomazzi, who had expressed concerns about his team's consistency over the course of a game, seems comfortable with the team's progress. They have been working out the wrinkles.

"We are trying to keep getting a little bit better each day and the guys have been responding," he said. "We had a great practice yesterday and we're looking forward to another great workout today in preparation."

The CCSF-Las Positas women's basketball game will kick off Wednesday's doubleheader at 5 p.m. The game will feature two scorers ranked in the state's top five -- the Hawks' Ashley Hart (22.5 ppg) and Rams' Samantha Erisman (22.7 ppg).