FREMONT — With 3.8 seconds remaining in the third quarter, and a sizable 32 point lead, the Hawks refused to show mercy.
Sophomore forward Monique Cavness rolled the inbounds pass toward sophomore guard Kierstin Constantino. The nation’s JUCO leader in three-point field goals with 136 made three’s picked up the ball, darted past a defender to her spot on the left wing, and put up a one-legged three at the buzzer.
The Hawks’ bench erupted in cheers, swarming Constantino. The game had long been over. It perhaps was a bit unsportsmanlike considering their massive lead. But Las Positas women’s hoops hasn’t had many of these moments. This was just one of those games. The Hawks could do no wrong.
The Hawks (6-16) got their second Coast Conference-South win in seven tries, blitzing Ohlone on its own court 108-59 on Feb. 9. Behind a combined 100 points from Constantino, Cavness and freshman guard Kyshanti King, plus a new aggressive defensive scheme, Las Positas snapped a four-game losing streak. The Renegades (3-18 overall, 0-7 conference), now losers of 15 straight, didn’t stand a chance.
After ending the first quarter with a six-point lead, the Hawks outscored Ohlone by 43 points over the final three quarters.
“We came with a different level of focus,” Coach Caleb Theodore said. “We had a bye week, so we had four solid practices, and the girls stuck to the plan. That was the difference-maker.”
Now the question is whether that was their last win of the season, and for the sophomores the final win of their Las Positas careers. The Hawks’ remaining three opponents are all among the best in the state.
The Hawks entered the game just above Ohlone at the bottom of the conference standings. Las Positas’ only other conference win came against these same Renegades back in Jan. 17 at The Nest. The second matchup was more lopsided.
A major factor in the Hawks dominating performance was their much-improved defense. In their last previous games, the Hawks gave up at least 86 points in each. Looking for a way to spark his defense, Thedore went with a full-court press, something they never did last season.
It didn’t take long for the Hawks to show their new defensive style, as on the Renegades first offensive possession, King and freshman guard Tamia Herring were right in the face of the inbounder. Constanino positioned herself at half-court alongside freshman forward Joyce Mulumba, with Cavness back near the paint. The first few possessions were a bit sloppy, leading to a lot of fouls. Once they started to get on the same page, the more direct style paid its dividends.
The Hawks finished the game with 14 combined steals, as the pressure caused up front by King and in the middle from Constantino and Mulumba clearly made the Renegades uncomfortable. The Hawks turned those turnovers into multiple fast break opportunities, causing the offense to have a very fast and direct pace the whole way through.
It was only the sixth time this season the Hawks held their opponents under 80 points. They are 4-2 in those games.
“The first time around that we saw them,” Theodore said, “I had to take a lot of that information in and figure out what was the best plan of attack for the second time, and I believed strongly that a full-court press may benefit us. And I think we have the personnel to try it this year.”
King proved to be a problem on both ends. Not only did her pressure give Ohlone’s offense fits, she torched the Renegades defensive for 39 points, just shy of her career high of 40.
She was aggressive the whole game, constantly looking to attack the heart of the Renegade defense. Her aggression led to a lot of good looks near the rim, where she consistently finished strong. She didn’t just drive, but added four made 3-pointers.
Freshman guard Kyshanti King, shooting, scored 39 points with 14 rebounds in the Hawks in over Ohlone. She was one point off her career-high of 40. (Photo by Jakob Arnarsson/The Express)
Constantino did what she does: make it rain.
Her night started off a bit sluggish, much like the rest of the Hawks, as her first couple shots weren’t falling. But the 3-pointers eventually started dropping. She finished 15-for-30 shooting, including 8 of 20 from behind the arc.
Constantino and King are now averaging 26.2 points and 20.4 points, respectively. King also had 14 rebounds and Constantino had 10 assists.
“Kierstin is doing exactly what I ask of her,” Theodore said. “We all know she leads the nation in threes, and she showed how she can create her shot and be consistent with it. Kyshanti is dynamic in transition, so off missed shots she was able to do that for us at a high level. They are both doing what I ask and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Cavness also had a big night as along with her 23 points she grabbed a career-high 33 rebounds — adding to her status as California’s JUCO leader in total rebounds.
The Hawks will need more dominant performances if they want to win again this season.
With the season drawing to a close, they are set to host rival Chabot on Feb. 16. The Gladiators (16-9) are ranked No. 21 in the state by the California Community College Athletic Association.
After that? At San Francisco (17-6), ranked No. 13 in the state. The regular-season finale comes at home against No. 24 San Mateo (16-8).
“We are not going to have any room for error against those teams because they are excellent,” Theodore said, “and their records speak for themselves.
“We have an opportunity with our talent to match them and compete and give them a run for their money.”
Jakob Arnarsson is the Sports Editor of The Express. Follow him on X, formally Twitter @JakobA2004