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This article was originally published Dec. 8, 2022.

The eyes of the campus are all over the Las Positas men’s basketball team this season, after having a historic run to the Elite 8 of the state tournament just last season. Garnering more and more attention calls the big question: Will the Hawks be able to repeat the magic of last year and punch themselves a ticket to the state tournament?

This program has a name to uphold, when one thinks of Las Positas sports, basketball is at the top of the discussion. The basketball program has been the premiere, most accomplished program in the last seven years behind the mind of head coach James Giacomozzi. The Hawks have shown year after year why they are a team that deserves to have their names up there with the best in the state, and that this year will be no different.

At a glance, the team’s roster is promising. A group of guards and players who take consistent shots is more than appealing, but is it enough?

Though last year was an irreplicable season, the only way is up. They hope to continue to build on the formula to winning they achieved just last year.

The team started off hot last season, boasting a 16-1 record through 17 games and a 27-4 record overall while losing just three games going into the regional tournament. This year’s team has already lost two contests to San Jose and Modesto in their first seven games, indicative of the improvements still needing to be made.

“We definitely learned two very different lessons with each loss,” Head Coach James Giacomozzi said.

He continued, “In the first game we lost a 24 point lead. We have to learn to value each possession the same no matter the score, while in the second game we learned we control the controllables, we didn’t make enough plays to put ourselves in a position to run away with the game from shooting to rebounding.”

Considering only Brandon Fisher, Isiah Victor, Jordahn Johnson and Evan Johnson are returning players who got minutes in last season’s run, it’s vital the rest of the team steps up by bridging lost time and practice.  The quad and their leadership, however, will likely be a deciding factor for their success.

Every successful team has to have players with a strong voice that the team can respect and follow, no voice in the Hawks locker room will be stronger than the ones that have already been around the program in previous years. This trio is coming off of a historic season that they all had their hands in, they know what needs to be done to repeat that, and the locker room will follow their lead with that component in mind. “Your number one recruit should be your returning athletes, there’s a level of trust and familiarity within the returning athletes to the point where having those three guys now take on larger roles. This has been huge for us,” Giacomozzi said.

Though new to the starting five, the returning sophomores are no strangers to competition. The three know what to expect. They’ve already lived it. Met by high standards in their first season, Fisher, Victor and Johnson carry the responsibility of leading by example and raising the bar higher.

“Being in a successful program requires you to be very consistent,” Fisher said. He continued, “Going to practice and competing against tough players everyday, making sure we’re going all out every rep no matter if it’s a practice or a game.”

Going all out and staying consistent is certainly one of the program’s highest points of emphasis and has been a pillar in the practices day in and day out.

The standards are no different for the new players. The team’s premiere transfer has proved to be Jalen Patterson, a sophomore from Arizona Western College. Patterson’s early season statistics are phenomenal, boasting a 18 points per game average shooting over 40% from behind the three point line, while dishing out over 6 assists a game.

Patterson is well aware of the precedent set at Las Positas by previous teams, and credits his decision to transfer to the school to coach Giacomozzi’s gradual formation of unified teams.

“My goals for the team this year are the same as what was achieved last year, I’m just coming to join and pick up where it was left off,” Patterson said. He continued, “We want to finish the job this year and hopefully put a ring on all our fingers.”

While having a team composed of well-versed athletes and knowledgeable coaches never hurt anyone, the team fully represents the notion that hard work you put in will show when the lights are the brightest.

Jacob Fogelstrom is a staff writer for The Express. Follow him @jacobfogie.

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