Mikayla Hasal, one of the leaders of the women’s basketball team, abandoned her teammates sending the remaining group into an uncontrollable nosedive.
The Hawks were well in the playoff hunt after starting the season 9-8. But prior to the Jan. 14 matchup with rival Chabot, the starting point guard informed head coach Clarence Morgan she would not be returning.
After the freshman’s departure wins were hard to come by, and the team was eventually eliminated from playoff contention and fell to the cellar of the conference.
“She quit,” head coach Clarence Morgan said. “She says I’m too tough.”
Athletic Director Dyan Miller declined to comment.
In her final game as a Hawk, on Jan. 7 against San Jose City College, Hasal scored 12 points. But she did not manage a single rebound, assist or steal while committing three turnovers.
The Hawks lost 74-56.
Following the loss, Morgan said he called Hasal’s toughness into question.
“I said ‘You’re too soft,’” Morgan said. “She said, ‘You’re telling me that in front of everybody? I’m too soft? You’re embarrassing me.’”
Morgan said he responded by repeating his claim.
“If I call you soft, and that’s a major issue for you, then you’re too soft.
Along with her playing “soft,” Morgan also pointed to Hasal’s occasionally selfish play as not a disservice to her team.
“I told her one game,” he said, “‘It’s not a one-man band. Pass the ball.’ She said, ‘You’re embarrassing me in front of my teammates.’ So she quit, and her sister quit because she quit, but that’s how it goes. I can’t have them out there playing soft.
Hasal earned the starting role despite being a freshman. She transferred in from CSU Stanislaus, a Division II school, this season and seemed to be a great fit for the Hawks.
Hasal was unavailable for comment. Her sister, Jessica, who also quit was unavailable as well.
She was leading the team in scoring at 11.9 points per game and was second in assists per game (3.1).
In what was possibly her finest performance as a Hawk, Hasal led the team to a 73-69 victory over Allan Hancock College on Dec. 4. She scored a game-high 22 points, her second highest point total this season, and added four rebounds, four assists and six steals.
Morgan foresaw this success prior to the season. Pointing to her poise and demeanor, he likened Hasal to a coach on the floor, after the team’s opening game.
His tune was a lot different when asked about Hasal recently.
“She was expecting high school,” Morgan said. “When I recruited her (in high school), some games she was there, some games she wasn’t. Sometimes she went to practice sometimes she didn’t.
“She went to Stanislaus (that coach) was too tough, she left there. She came here and I’m too tough.”
Hasal was a four-year letter winner in basketball at Manteca High School, and led the Buffaloes to two league championships. Prior to her senior year, she signed a letter of intent to attend CSU Stanislaus where she redshirted her freshman season before transferring to LPC.
Attempts to contact CSU Stanislaus’ head coach Wayman Strickland were unsuccessful.
In their first game without Hasal, the Hawks lost to Chabot by 31 points. Sophomore Taylor Bobbitt, who replaced Hasal in the starting lineup, scored 13 points to lead the team.
The Hawks followed by bracketing wins over College of San Mateo and Ohlone College around a loss to Skyline College. But since beating Ohlone, the Hawks have lost five straight to drop to last place and out of playoff contention.
Of the four players who returned from last season’s team, only Bobbitt had previously wore a Hawks game uniform.
In Bobbitt’s opinion the success, and failure, of the team was not based on Mikayla’s play, but an extinguishing of the team’s competitive edge.
“I just think we might have lost our fire,” Bobbitt said. “In the preseason we beat Fresno City (College), a state-ranked team, we were way up here. Then we slowly lost the drive and the fire. I think that’s the biggest reason.”
In their final game of the season, the Hawks lost to City College of San Francisco by a final score of 91-43.
The sour finish to the season was especially tough for Bobbitt. As the final buzzer sounded, she was struck with the shock that her team’s once promising season had gone by the wayside.
“It was probably the biggest heart-breaking feeling I’ve ever felt,” Bobbitt said. “I felt like I not only let myself down, but I let my team down
“I just hope that these freshmen take in our ups, and downs, and it makes for a better season next year.”