With spectators banned, the Las Positas men’s basketball team had to get the win without the usual aid of crowd support
LIVERMORE — No cheering. No celebration. No shaking stands and chanting fans. Just the buzzer and the squeak of sneakers leaving the court, and then silence.
Basketball, the sport meant to rouse joy and excitement, felt uncharacteristically sterile and somber. ‘Get the ball,’ emphatically screeched Las Positas Coach James Giacomazzi, game strategies resounded from players–sounds made discordant without the backdrop of fans.
The missing presence of support.
On Feb. 1, Las Positas men’s basketball team ended their two-game losing streak with an 81-69 victory against Cañada college in a gym with no fans. Their last victory on Jan. 20 against Foothill College ended with a fight off the court between players, coaches and fans. One of Las Positas’ key players, Jaden Phillips, was suspended as a result. Furthermore, spectators are no longer allowed at Las Positas home games.
Down in numbers and mentally taxed, the Hawks have been on shaky ground. But they finally pulled it together in their match against Cañada College’s Colts.
The Hawks started the game strong with a 31-20 point lead halfway through the first quarter. By halftime, their 11-point lead had shrunk to 7 points, but they remained vigilant. Sophomore guard Jalen Patterson and sophomore guard Isaiah Victor had impressive rebounds throughout the game. Another standout, freshman forward Jajuan Mitchell-Cox, delivered a flashy slam dunk in the fourth quarter.
By the end of the game, the Hawks had found their stride. Their communication and endurance helped them pull through to regain a 12-point lead and their 15th win of the season.
“We all realized we had to come together and play defense, we can’t just outscore everybody anymore. We gotta win with rebounding and defense,” said Patterson.
Las Positas earned 20 technical fouls, which is their average for the season. Cañada College ended the game with about half as many fouls, earning 12. Cañada came close to equalizing their 10-point deficit due to free throws. In previous games, these fouls have been the difference in what would’ve been a victory for the Hawks.
“It helps and hurts depending on if we are the ones getting the fouls. But we know that game to game, it’s going to be different, so we have to adjust and we did a good job of doing that,” said Victor regarding the Hawks’ history of high fouls.
“It’s a little bit of both, we just gotta play smarter. I think we should be fine,” said Patterson.
This isn’t the only thing they needed to adjust on, though. The Hawks have been going through massive changes mid-season. For the last two games, they were missing their highest scorer Jaden Phillips.
“It’s an adjustment to be missing a talent like that, but we all know it’s a next-man-up mentality. Everybody gotta step up, myself included,” said Patterson.
On top of missing players, the no-spectator ban proved to be another challenge the Hawks needed to overcome.
“Oh, it’s a big difference for sure, that’s part of the adjustment we are trying to make, but of course, it’s difficult when we can’t feed off the energy from the crowd,” Phillips said.
“It’s most definitely a difference, but as a team, we do a good job of cheering each other on, so it’s not so quiet in there,” said Victor.
The Hawks’ attitude of positivity and endurance may be what they need to navigate this season of change.
The no-spectator ban will last for the rest of the season, according to Vice President Dr. Jeanne Wilson. The decision came as a collaboration between Las Positas administration and the California Community College Athletic Association, or CCCAA.
Until the regional playoffs in late February, the Hawks’ home games against Chabot and Skyline College on Feb. 8 and 10 will be spectator free. Fans interested in following the Hawks can keep up with their Youtube live stream.