By: C.J. Peterson
The men’s basketball program at Las Positas College is only in its 10th season, so it’s a small sample size. But this year’s edition is looking more and more like the best squad in school history.
With six games remaining, the Hawks are on pace to break the school’s record for wins, set in 2011-12 when LPC went 22-8. That year — under coach Tony Costello, the program’s founder who died in 2013 — the Hawks were ranked as high as seventh in the region and fifteenth in the state.
This season, second-year head coach James Giacomazzi has the Hawks at a 18-4 record with six games left to play.
Ranked seventh in the region, they are locks to make the playoffs for the third consecutive year, which has never happened in the history of Las Positas basketball.
But the biggest argument that could place this year’s LPC’s team as the best in school history came on on Jan. 18 of this year.
The Hawks beat perennial power, City College of San Francisco — on the RAMS’ home court. It was the first time in school history the Hawks beat CCSF also marking the first time Las Positas has upset the No. 1 ranked team in the state.
“It shows that we can beat anyone. So we play with that intensity, and we just try to bring that intensity every day to practice and to the games.” said sophomore guard Cameron Johnson.
Although this season has been a booming success thus far, a mere playoff appearance doesn’t seem to fit this season’s expectations. Coming off of a sweet sixteen letdown from last season, the Hawks know that just making the big dance isn’t enough.
Even though competing for a state championship may still be a few seasons away, advancing past the sweet sixteen in redemption fashion is a much more reasonable goal.
Strong offensive output, a savvy, veteran-dense roster and a hunger for success all add up to a recipe that has an elite eight appearance written all over it.
Averaging 80.0 points per game, the Hawks have improved by nearly two points from last year’s season.
And with the majority of their buckets coming from inside the paint, this looks like a trend that will continue, especially in playoff basketball where points come at a premium.
Las Positas has also been able to retain nearly half of their players from the 2015-16 season. Kameron Johnson and Kaleb Baskett are a few to name on top of last season’s leading scorer Keith Hunter.
Keeping these veterans around will play a major role in the playoffs as many of the team’s players will have been there once before.
At a level in which players only have two years of eligibility, having playoff experience in nearly half of the team’s roster is a clear advantage for Las Positas.
In addition, with last season’s playoff loss still fresh in the minds of those LPC veterans, the desire to succeed has been amplified.
Las Positas has used failure to motivate themselves as redemption can be a powerful force.
“We remember last year. And with a lot more seniors this year, we kind of know what the feel is and what to do now” said sophomore guard Keith Hunter.
While Las Positas looks like a contender on paper, the 12 teams ranked ahead of them in the state are not the team’s biggest worry. Instead, their largest obstacle may be themselves.
This was perhaps most evident in the win against CCSF, as LPC almost the blew a ten point lead by committing late fouls on top of poor shot selections to end the game.
By winning that game, the Hawks saw what they are capable of accomplishing while also getting a taste of what can happen when they don’t play to their full potential.
As the season winds down and the possibility of what might be an historic year for the Hawks comes into focus, coach Giacomazzi says he refuses to let his team get too far ahead of themselves.
“We have six one game playoffs left. If we win all six, we’ll be the champions. And I don’t know about history, or this school or whatever, but I do know that if we go 6-0, we’ll have a banner for the basketball program in the gym this year. And that would be very special.”