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The last time the Hawks went into the City College of San Francisco and came out with a victory, “Bad And Boujee” by Migos was No. 1 on the Billboard charts.

It’s going to be tough to do it this year. The San Francisco Rams, ranked No. 3 in the state by the California Community College Athletics Association (CCCAA), have won eight in a row, six of them by double digits. They are 11-1 at home after going 13-1 at home last season. The Rams are 40-3 in San Francisco since the pandemic.

If the Hawks manage to pull it off and get their first road win over San Francisco since Jan. 18, 2017, it would be their signature win and validation as they prepare for the postseason. 

“You just have to get hot at the right time,” said Hawks coach James Giacomazzi. “We are ascending, we are playing better, but we still have a lot of room to improve. But we are playing much better basketball than we were three weeks ago. And so we’re trending in the right direction.”

For a team featuring nine freshmen in its rotation, Las Positas showed some resilience in turning around their season after starting Coast Conference North play with six consecutive losses. The Hawks’ playoff hopes are sitting pretty after their three-game winning streak followed by their nail-biting loss to No. 20 Chabot in overtime. They should be one of the 24 teams selected for the NorCal Regionals, which would be their ninth consecutive postseason appearance, including all eight seasons under Giacomazzi. 

The Hawks will learn their fate on Sunday, Feb. 25 when the NorCal seeding Committee selects the 18 at-large berths for the NorCal bracket. But first, Las Positas has an opportunity to put an exclamation point on its strong finish to the regular season. Getting a win over either San Francisco or San Mateo would help the Hawks’ case for a higher seed and a better chance of advancing. 

Last season, the Hawks made it to the Sweet 16 and were close to a trip to the state tournament. If they are peaking at the right time, and get some good news from the committee, Las Positas could end up positioned well for another Cinderella-type run to state. 

The Hawks haven’t missed the playoffs since the 2013-14 season. Since Giacomazzi arrived for the 2015-16 season, his Hawks are a combined 6-7 in the playoffs. In 2022, he led Las Positas to its first CCCAA State Championship tournament in school history, losing 77-64 to West Los Angeles.

Las Positas currently sits in fifth place in the Coast Conference-North. The Hawks still have a chance to finish in fourth place in the North Division of the conference, but no higher. As of the Feb. 14 rankings the Hawks find themselves outside the top 30 teams of the state. 

The Hawks are 1-5 against the current top 30, with two close losses to Conference rivals Chabot and Skyline. They also beat Siskiyous at home 78-71, who are currently leading the Golden Valley Conference. 

The Coast Conference is considered by many to be the toughest Conference in the state. Five teams from the Conference are ranked among the top 20 JUCO squads in California. While the challenge of Conference play has proven tough for Las Positas, Giacomazzi said it also provides opportunity. 

“Because every team in our conference is like a playoff game,” he said “When you get to the playoffs, hopefully it’s not going to be that much of a shock because we will have done it for two months.”

The Hawks certainly felt the challenge of their Conference, losing their first six games of conference play. But half of their losses were by three points or fewer. A major factor in their slow start was their inexperience. Only three sophomores returned from last year’s playoff squad: guard CJ Ward, forward Jajuan Mitchell-Cox and forward Nay’Veon Reed.

“Our Conference is pretty veteran except for us,” Giacomazzi said, “so they had that advantage going in. And we unfortunately had to learn on the job, and sometimes you take some lumps to get those lessons.”

The team certainly took its lumps, particularly in closing out tight games. The Hawks are only 2-5 in Conference games decided by six points or fewer. If they’d won two more of those, they would have an even Conference record. 

But multiple tough losses haven’t seemed to have shaken their confidence. 

“We’ve just got to do everything we’ve got to do,” Reed said. “Everybody has to play a role as it’s a team sport, not an individual sport. There’s five guys out on the floor and we all know that if we all do our jobs then we are going to go out there and get the job done.”

The Hawks’ next challenge might just be their toughest of the season — outside of West Valley, ranked No. 1 in the state and beat the Hawks by 32 back in December. When the Hawks hosted San Francisco on Jan. 26, the Rams walked out of The Nest with an 88-74 victory following scuffle among fans that forced the police to clear the stands. The entire second half was played without spectators. 

The Hawks struggled in the first half of that game, going into the half down 17 points. But even without the fans, the Hawks managed to rally in the second half. They charged back, cutting the deficit to single digits, before the quality of the Rams took over. San Francisco pulled away down the stretch, winning 88-74.

Las Positas followed that loss with a heartbreaker at San Mateo. Back on Jan. 31, San Mateo — currently third in the North Division of Coast Conference — rallied from behind with a dominating second half, beating Las Positas 72-69. 

The three-game winning streak that followed was a revenge tour. They lost close games to Skyline, Ohlone and Cañada to open Conference play. But the Hawks returned the favor with wins over all three, including on the road at Ohlone and Cañada. The season finale is another chance at revenge.

Guess who comes to The Nest for the regular-season finale on Feb. 23? You guessed it. San Mateo.

“It’s still going to change a bunch even in the final week,” Giacomazzi said. “I feel good about our standing and our resume. But obviously, we can enhance that resume and enhance our standing in our own Conference by how we finish these last games.”

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