By Matt Schwab
Las Positas Athletics
With high expectations and a talented roster, the Las Positas College men's basketball team will open the season when it hosts the 14th annual Tony Costello Memorial Tournament, Friday through Sunday, Nov. 1-3.
The Hawks (21-7 last season) are ranked No. 3 in the CCCMBCA State Preseason Poll. No. 28 Butte and No. 22 Canada-Redwood City are also participating in the six-team tourney.
"We're looking forward to it and we're excited about it," Las Positas coach James Giacomazzi said this week of the tourney. "It's a great opportunity to kind of get the season underway, and we're at home.
"Our guys get to play real games, and honoring Coach Costello is always cool. His family is going to be coming out as they do each year. We have a recognition for him," he continued.
The Memorial is divided into two pools: Las Positas, Canada and Sacramento City are in Pool A; and Butte, Contra Costa and Siskiyous are in Pool B.
Action will begin with three games on Friday: Canada-Siskiyous, at 3 p.m.; Las Positas-Contra Costa, 5 p.m.; and Butte-Sacramento City, 7 p.m.
On Saturday, Contra Costa will face Canada at 1 p.m.; Siskiyous takes on Sacramento City at 3 p.m., and the host Hawks face Butte at 5 p.m. The tournament concludes with three games on Sunday: Sacramento City-Contra Costa, at 11 a.m.; Butte-Canada, 1 p.m.; and Las Positas-Siskiyous, 3 p.m.
PRIME-TIME PLAYER: The Hawks boast returning Northern California All-State player Michael Hayes, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound guard out of West High-Tracy. Hayes was just one of two freshmen selected to the all-NorCal state team. A dynamic, rim-rattling player, Hayes averaged 23.7 points (No. 3 in state) and 9.7 rebounds (13th in the state) last season. "He's bigger this year. He's a little more of a complete player," Giacomazzi says of Hayes. "His passing has improved. His perimeter shooting has improved. That goes along with everything else he brings to the table, so he's in a good position to have a very good year again, and recruitment has certainly picked up." The coach adds the team has "some pretty good talent, from top to bottom."
A LOOK BACK: An ascending program in the state, the Hawks set a school-record with nine wins in the powerful Coast-North last season. They also tied for No. 2 in program history with 21 total wins and finished ranked in the state's top 15 again. The Hawks were piloted by sophomore point guard John Ketchel, the state leader in assists who is now at Hawaii-Pacific.
FRESH FACES AND SAVVY VETS: Giacomazzi agrees that the program is poised to take another step forward. They built this team to be "longer and more athletic and quicker and have a little bit more depth," he says. The Hawks will need to lean on that 'depth' right away as starting guard Marquis Davison recently broke his finger and will be out for a few weeks. They will be piloted by heady former Serra High star Lee Jones Jr., of Foster City, a point guard who led Serra to its first CIF state title in 2016, in Division II. Coming off a greyshirt year, Jones knows the Hawks program well. "He's a cerebral player. He's smart and he can score and he can dish it. He can handle the ball well,"
Giacomazzi said of Jones. "I think he's going to be a very good player for us." A Freedom High graduate like Ketchel, sophomore guard Andrew Mork, a native of Sweden, bolsters the Hawks' well-stocked backcourt as a transfer from Metro State University.
Other Hawks guards are Isaiah Abdul (So., Tracy, Monterey Peninsula); Nikko Echalas (Fr., Arroyo HS); returner Tyler Langowski (So., Livermore HS), Cedric Lewis (Fr., Medina HS-OH); and Davison (So., Fairfield, Mesa CC-Ariz.); along with returning standout G/F Wesley Burse (So., Enochs HS).
The Las Positas women's basketball team will open its season at home against Modesto on Nov. 5. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. The Hawks will also host Contra Costa at 5 p.m. on Nov. 7 and Hartnell at 3 p.m.