By Matt Schwab
The Las Positas men's basketball team was led by a pair of Michaels in a hard-fought 79-77 win over Siskiyous on Sunday to clinch the title of the Tony Costello Memorial Tip-Off Classic.
Sophomore forward Michael Moore of Patterson had a game-high 21 points and tournament MVP Michael Hayes had 19 points and eight rebounds for the Hawks (2-0), ranked No. 3 in the CCCMBCA Preseason State Poll.
Moore, a transfer from Modesto Junior College, was a deft 7 of 8 from the field and 7 of 10 from the free throw line. Moore and impressive Hawks freshman guard Nikko Echalas of Arroyo High joined Hayes on the all-tournament team.
At 2-0, Las Positas won the tournament title with the best record in the event.
Butte of Oroville, which was supposed to be the Hawks' opponent on Saturday, Day 2 in the three-day event, withdrew from the tournament after being involved in a scary car accident on Friday on the way to Livermore in which two team vans were totaled, said Las Positas coach Jame Giacomazzi.
After the accident, Butte sent a bus to pick up the teams and take them back to Oroville. The Roadrunners were shaken up but escaped serious injury in the accident, Giacomazzi said.
Giacomazzi praised all three of his all-tournament players, specifically pointing out Echalas. "He provided great energy and had some really good games. He averaged about 10 points a game. He had nine assists and only one turnover for the tournament."
Echalas also had five steals in the two games and was very efficient on offense.
After a bolting to a 33-14 lead, Las Positas led Siskiyous just 35-29 at halftime, and then withstood a late surge in the second half to prevail.
"They started making shots, tough ones too, and got a little confidence, and we missed a bunch of open looks," Giacomazzi recalled of the first-half surge by Siskiyous. "We rushed some shots. We stopped being aggressive towards the basket and started settling early from the perimeter. We got cold, they got hot."
LPC, which also battled first-half foul trouble, got the lead up to nine in the second half before Siskiyous closed it to two and had a shot with three seconds left to possibly win the game but missed.
In terms of overall continuity, the Hawks were dealt a blow when 6-5 guard Marquis Davison recently suffered a broken finger and did not play in the tournament.
"We'll get there," Giacomazzi said. "When Marquis got hurt that changed a lot of what we did offensively, but also more importantly what it did defensively in the full court and in the half court. We had to maneuver people in different spots, and so we only had four sessions of workouts with those guys in their new spots. It just changed everything and so we were a little quirky in it. We were kind of learning on the go."
He added, "We're certainly improving, and I'd rather improve with wins than improve with a loss."
Las Positas opened the tourney with a 95-46 blowout of Contra Costa on Friday. Three Hawks scored 13 points -- Hayes, Mork and Wesley Burse. Echalas and Tyler Langowski combined for 23 points off the bench. Hayes also had 15 boards in a double-double.
MORE ON BUTTE: Giacomazzi said the Butte accident occurred when a car stopped abruptly in front of the first Butte van, which had to stop abruptly to avoid the car. The second Butte van then smashed into the first van.
Giacomazzi kept in communication with the Roadrunners as the news unfolded.
"I talked to the head coach (Russ Critchfield) and the athletic director (Craig Rigsbee) on Friday and luckily they were OK, just really shaken up," Giacomazzi said, "and then I talked to the coach again about 9:30-10 o'clock Friday night, and they'd just gotten out of the hospital. One broken nose, a lot of abrasions, cuts, scrapes, bruises, and obviously the shock emotion of it all. They were a little bit sore and obviously couldn't make the tournament."
Butte was going to try to reschedule the games, Giacomazzi said.