LIVERMORE — For the second consecutive year, a fight at a Las Positas College men’s basketball game left the bleachers empty and the Hawks playing in a quiet gym.
Friday’s measurement-stick game against City College of San Francisco — the dominant program across the Bay with five state championships — was interrupted by an altercation in the stands. Police were called, and spectators were ejected for the second half of the game.
Already underdogs against the No. 10 team in the state, the Hawks lost whatever homecourt advantage existed and eventually the game. The Rams (16-5) beat Las Positas, 88-74, despite a combined 42 points from the Hawks’ twin guards, Elijah and Elliott Mobley. The Hawks, who went 13-3 in non-conference play, are now 0-5 in Coast Conference-North games.
“I’ve never been a part of a situation like that,” Hawks coach James Giacomazzi said, referring to this year’s situation.
Livermore Police separate spectators during an altercation that broke out at the Hawks home game against City College of San Francisco. (Photo by Alan Lewis/ The Express)
Just over a year ago, Jan. 20, 2023, a blowout win over Foothill College was marred by a brawl that included players from both teams and spectators. Giacommazi and Las Positas College Dean of Athletics Kevin Kramer were struck in the melee. Police were called, and the gym was cleared out then, too. The altercation led to two Hawks players being suspended, one for the rest of the season, and five Hawks home games being played without fans.
This time, though, the players were not the spark. With around 30 seconds left in the first half, Elijah Mobley drew an offensive foul. Mobley got up off the hardwood pretty quickly and took exception with the San Francisco player. Perhaps it was because, as a spectator yelled, the player stepped over Mobley while he was on the ground — a violation of an unwritten rule in basketball. There was some back-and-forth talking between the players, but it was common banter for a basketball game.
But tensions were boiling over in the stands.
A young woman in the front of the bleachers, who appeared to be college-aged, was yelling at the players on the court. She seemed to be a fan of the visiting Rams. Suddenly, a woman from higher up in the bleachers — who was clearly older, resembling more a parent — made her way towards the woman at the bottom. Both of them were yelling at each other the whole time.
The intensity turned up rapidly. Multiple members of the crowd attempted to calm things down and separate the two women but to no avail. The women wound up on the court pushing and shoving each other.
The chaos escalated. Multiple small scuffles broke out in the crowd. Players remained uninvolved, mostly staying by the benches and allowing security to handle the situation. Livermore Police were called to the scene and eventually escorted every spectator out of the gym. The rest of the game was played with no spectators.
“I’ve been coaching for 25 years, and that’s the first time that’s ever happened,” Giacomazzi said. “So it was kind of just a weird vibe, a weird feeling. Safety is obviously paramount, so then it’s almost like the game becomes secondary.”
The question now becomes whether this incident leads to another spectator ban at Las Positas. The Hawks have three home games remaining, including a big rivalry game against Chabot on Feb. 16. Chabot is ranked No. 8 in the state.
The silver lining from Friday night was the incident seemed to galvanize the Hawks. They trailed by as much as 17. But in the second half, in an empty gym, they rallied to make a game of it.
“It was almost like they banded together even more so, which is weird,” Giacomazzi said. “When that situation happens, even though we weren’t really in it, but it was a part of us, and I could tell that it bothered us. But I just thought we came out with a sense of calm, and I thought we executed very well.”
The Hawks visit San Mateo (9-12) on Jan. 31 looking to end their five-game losing streak. The next home game is Feb. 2 against Skyline, who the Hawks nearly rallied to beat on the road Jan. 10.