By Arion Armeniakos
Special to Las Positas Athletics
The men's basketball rivalry in the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District is heating up.
Chabot has taken on an upward trajectory trying catch up with Las Positas, but it was the host Hawks who earned a hard-fought 84-80 victory on Wednesday night.
Las Positas head coach James Giacomazzi earned his landmark 300th career win as the Hawks evened the season series with the Gladiators after falling in Hayward last month.
"It was a big game and a big win for us," Giacomazzi said. "Our guys fought."
The Hawks (18-7, 8-3) now stand alone in second place in the Coast-North. They entered Wednesday night in a tie with Foothill behind unbeaten City College of San Francisco, but the Owls fell to CCSF and dropped to third.
Chabot (15-10, 6-5) is in fourth place with three games left to play in the regular season.
Strong rebounding and gritty defense helped Las Positas hold on in crunch time.
"We were able to fend off their run at the end, and I thought we played solidly and made enough plays down the stretch to win the game, something we weren't able to do back at their place," Giacomazzi said.
Former Livermore High star Tyler Langowski iced the game at the free throw line late.
Jabari Sweet kept the Gladiators in the game with an impressive outing, putting up 24 points to counter the 27 points poured in by Hawks star Michael Hayes.
The action seemed to mirror last month's district showdown in Hayward. The Hawks looked in control for large parts of the contest, building double-digit leads, but the Gladiators just wouldn't go away.
Las Positas' big man Michael Moore played a key role with 19 points filling in for suspended sophomore Wesley Burse. Moore did not miss a field goal in the first half and continued his offensive efficiency in the second while also coming up with blocks and crucial rebounds.
The Hawks' aggressive rebounding hurt Chabot head coach Keenan McMiller the most.
"We just didn't do it the same way we did in the first game," McMiller said. "We had ample opportunities to get ahead and win here, but rebounds. In the last few minutes we played good defense, they missed shots, but they got the rebounds and were able to capitalize. That was the difference."
Moore provided some much-needed energy which sparked the Hawks during key moments. This included an electric momentum shifting and-1 dunk followed by a block on the other end just before halftime as the Hawks took a 45-42 lead.
"He had a great game tonight," Giacomazzi said on Moore's effort. "It was a playoff-type atmosphere. We didn't have Wesley (Burse), who is like an energizer bunny for us, so this win is a testament to our guys being able to step up and make plays. Particularly Michael."
Moore was often tasked with guarding the tricky Sweet in the post, and he credited the Chabot leading scorer for inspiring his performance.
"He was busting my (bleep) and I was just like 'man, I need to step it up,'" Moore said. "My teammates were encouraging me and getting on me, and so I stepped up."
Both teams had three players each in double digits. Sweet, Skylar Robinson (18 points), and Micah Webster (15) delivered for Chabot. But Las Positas big scoring trio managed to outscore them, thanks to another huge effort from sophomore Andrew Mork, a Freedom High graduate who had 20 points.
Mork also went 10 for 10 from the field in his last game against Canada.
After a few years of Hawks domination, the district rivalry is finally rejuvenated — adding even more competition to the already stacked Coast-North.
"People might say we didn't play that well and what not, but strength wise, this is the conference," Giacomazzi said, speaking of the rivalry and other league opponents. "This conference is No. 1 and there are going to be tough challenges game in game out, so kudos to our guys for hanging in there and getting it done."
McMiller credits the Hawks for their ability to bounce back and pointed out the strides his team has made.
"They came out at us the way they were supposed to after taking a loss (at Chabot)," McMiller said. "They came out strong and then we made a run to get back in it. We didn't capitalize on our chances in the second half, but I think we've become even teams. They've been more established than us, but we're getting there and I'm excited about that."
Photo of Giacomazzi
Credit: Berry Evans, III