“This s—- too easy” returning guard Jalen Patterson said after dribbling the ball across the court to score a layup in the last 10 minutes of the first period.
The Hawks are back for more. At the Tony Costello Tip Off tournament, men’s basketball went head-to-head against Simpson University’s Junior Varsity team on home turf. Starting and ending strong, the Hawks showed what a year-round season looks like with a final 113-73 victory.
“There really is no off season at this level. You realize if you wanna be competitive, you wanna be good, you gotta be working pretty much 365 days,” Giaccomazzi said.
The team practices 5 days a week and a sixth day as an individual skill development session. Since they can only practice for so many hours, Giaccomazzi emphasizes short but hard practices.
Freshman athlete Jaden Saunders found this transition to be quite fast-paced. Saunders said, “It definitely goes at a faster speed and you have to think a lot more.”
“The mentality is a lot different in college; it’s more of a mental game than in high school. It’s just (about) certain reads and the more you play, you will pick it up,” Saunders said.
The first round of Las Positas and Simpson University’s game went over an hour. In the first 20 minutes, returning star forward Jordahn Johnson racked up 3 fouls and received warnings from the referee.
“I talked to the ref a little bit. (There were) some new rules I didn’t know about that changed in basketball,” Johnson said.
There were multiple stops for traveling and holds. Las Positas was awarded numerous free-throws and kept possession for most of the round.
In the 16th minute, the fresh Las Positas guard Jaden Philipps proved he would be a player to look out for this season with a slam dunk to Simpson’s net. Phillips, who was recruited by Giaccomazzi from Pacific University, ranked in the top 100 of high school players in the 2019-2020 season at Modesto Christian high school.
The Hawks ended this period 68-37, giving Simpson little leeway for redemption in the second period.
As the final 20 minutes ran down the clock, the Hawks scrambled to maintain their defensive strides. From a 30 point lead in the first half to 24, players Henry Palmer and Jordahn Johnson carried the team to build their lead up in the final six minutes.
“I think that (decline) was because of a little bit of everything. Today it was defensive play and rebounding, but at the same time we picked it up,” Palmer said.
Despite budding pressure, the Hawks’ managed to score 16 points within a 4 and a half minute time frame. Finishing the game at 113-73, the team secured their first win of the season.
To continue pulling off an impressive record, the team still seeks improvement.
Overall, as a team, Palmer recalled missed opportunities in the second period for sharper defensive play.
“Personally, I want to improve on getting used to the college game, being a leader on and off the court and just playing with more patient control,” Palmer said.
However, Johnson believes this team will go even farther than last season, which “speaks volumes” to their quality since previously, the Hawks made it to the NCAA championships.
The Hawks inaugural win in the Tony Costello Tip Off Tournament is not only a great start to the season, but a nod to Tony Costello’s legacy.
“The former coach here was named Tony Costello. Great coach. Great leader. He was on the board of the men’s basketball coach association. That’s where I got to meet him,” Giaccomazzi said.
“I just wanted to keep it going in his honor,” Giaccomazzi said.
The games will run throughout the weekend, as teams from Butte College, Columbia College, Contra Costa College, Cosumnes River College, College of the Siskiyous and Los Medanos College compete to win the 16th annual tournament.
This article was cowritten by Lizzy Rager and Sophia Sipe. Follow them @ragerwriter and @sophiasipe.