By Arion Armeniakos
Special to Las Positas athletics
The Las Positas men's basketball team is preparing for the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) playoffs for the fifth time in as many years under coach James Giacomazzi, but it feels like this year the Hawks are more complete than ever.
The curtain dropped on another solid Coast-North season for the Hawks (20-8, 10-4) on Friday. They dropped a nail-biter against state No. 1 City College of San Francisco, 91-84, in Livermore. But the entertaining game epitomized what these Hawks are about — strength in numbers.
Giacomazzi's team is deep. The Hawks were down a starter, without shooting guard Andrew Mork, and then suffered further when both Marquis Davison and Michael Hayes fouled out before crunch time. But even that couldn't stop the Hawks hanging right with the Rams.
"We are so proud of them as coaches. Our effort was A-plus," Giacomazzi said after the game. "They fought for 40 minutes. Some of our execution could've been better but we could taste (the victory)."
The Hawks, seeded at No. 13 for the CCCAA NorCal playoffs, will travel to Bay Valley Conference champion and No. 4 Yuba (23-5, 14-2) in the second round on Saturday. A challenge to start off with, but also the kind of game that this team was built for.
"Our guys know what our strengths and weaknesses are at this point," Giacomazzi said, referencing the playoffs. "We just have to continue to play with great effort. We're healthier this year. We're playing pretty organized basketball. If we continue to play together and play our way, we're going to be a hard out."
CCSF, which finished the season 28-0 and 14-0 conference, is now well aware of that.
The Rams previously dispatched the Hawks at CCSF in January, but the hosts had other things in mind for the rematch. The Hawks looked playoff ready.
"We're going to be a hard team to beat," Giacomazzi said. "I think we're playing really good basketball right now. The guys are leaving it all out on the floor."
When at full strength and locked in, the Hawks, ranked No. 3 by the CCCMBCA in the preseason poll, can stand toe-to-toe with anyone. They proved it last week without three starters down the stretch, at a moment when Giacomazzi could have certainly used with Hayes' presence to take them home.
The playoffs are also coming at a perfect time for Hayes. The West High graduate dropped 17 points in 34 minutes against CCSF before fouling out and he is already the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in Las Positas history with at least one game to go.
Hayes' teammate, freshman Matt Roseby, gave a bit of an insight into what it's like playing with him.
"He just has that mentality, like a 6th gear that he can kick into," Roseby said. "When he's in that gear, he's nearly unstoppable."
The future looks bright for Hayes — who is averaging a double-double of 21.1 points (8th in state) and 11.2 rebounds (2nd in state) this season — but a lengthy playoff run could further solidify him as arguably the greatest player to ever play at "The Nest."
But Roseby emphasized the need for the whole team to step up and use its depth to its advantage and not just rely on Hayes.
"It's the same at any level," Roseby continued. "You can have one guy go out there, give it his all, drop 50 — but if the rest of the team doesn't perform then that probably won't be enough. We have to play to our potential. We no doubt have the talent and skill to beat anyone."
In addition, the Hawks are also boosted by the re-emergence of pre-season standout Michael Moore. The center has been a force in the last two games he has started, including scoring 19 points in a crucial win against Chabot and 25 against CCSF, adding an extra weapon to Giacomazzi's arsenal.