LPC finishes second at ‘Tip-off Classic’

Jason Leskiw
SPORTS EDITOR
The Las Positas Tip-off Classic is a tournament that has been held at Las Positas College for the past seven years. Eight schools from all over northern California come to compete in what is typi- cally a very important test for all teams involved; and more impor- tantly an opportunity for those teams to identify and improve their weaknesses.
The tournament began Thursday and will continue until the championship match on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Game one
The Las Positas Hawks began their season Thursday with a 68-54 tournament victory over Gavilan College. Led by inter- im Head Coach Ward Farris, the Hawks out-scored Gavilan in both halves and then faced Columbia on Friday evening.
Freshman guard Booker Shabazz led the team in scoring during the first matchup with 13 points and sophomore Jacob Conteras and Juwann Springfield both ended the game with 11 points apiece. While the game couldn’t be described using words
like dominance, rout or supreme, one could certainly call the outing effective.
Only two players on Gavilan scored more than five points and only 15 field goals were allowed.
“They’re a scrappy team, a team with intensity,” Coach Farris said. “It’s always good to come out and get our feet wet and come out with a win.”
Game two
LPC wins in overtime; 101-97
Before the second game, Farris’s only wishes for the match against Columbia were to control the tempo of the game and “mas- ter the intensity.”
LPC was able to do that for the most part in the first half, though it was a shootout for the first seven minutes. Shabazz was able to rain down three-pointers and the half ended with another from forward Kellen Sweetwyne during what was a skirmish for the ball in the final three seconds. Sweetwyne came up with the ball and threw up a hail mary shot that bounced off the backboard and through the net.
Columbia committed more than eight fouls and turned the ball over two too many times. They did play aggressively, some- thing that put a hitch in Farris’s gameplan.
“I had a look at Columbia (Thursday night) and they’re a good team,” said Farris. Our guys did a good job coming out of the gate with intensity. An issue for us is free throw shooting, we didn’t exactly set the world on fire at the free throw line. I don’t focus on what the refs do, my only concern is what we do.”
Shabazz was the clear-cut key player of the game with 23 points, 12 of those coming from beyond the arc. Kellen Sweetwyne was also a mass contributor with 22 points.
“(Shabazz) is a gamer,” said Farris. “There’s no ceiling for that guy, he’s got tons of potential.”
Regulation ended with a score of 88-88, resulting in overtime. Las Positas was able to outscore Columbia 13-9 in those five min- utes.
Game three
Just after player introductions, a Contra Costa College player was overheard saying “It’ll be like taking candy from a baby.”
While the game was a far cry
from that sort of ease, the Comets were able to come away with a hard fought win of 83-71.
The key drive for Contra Costa was during the last eight min- utes of regulation, going three minutes and 50 seconds with 11 unanswered points. The LPC offense fell flat on their face dur- ing that period, though the defen- sive play had a heartbeat still. The entire second half was a tumultu- ous one, with more than 10 lead changes and 20 total fouls.
Booker “BT” Shabazz had three fouls in the second half and Justin Wolfe had five during the few minutes he was on the court. LPC had 15 total fouls during the game, but CCC had 18. LPC shot 62 percent from the line, as did CCC.
How it happened
Joseph Viscuglia was fouled to start the game by sinking one of his two free throws but CCC’s Tyler West was able to counter with a nice jumper from three- point land. The first few minutes of game play included a lot of shots and misses by LPC and tough defensive play on both sides of the ball. CCC favored the perimeter in their shots as they were outsized and outdueled inside the key.
The intensity that Coach Farris had stressed was not quite there during the first 10 minutes, but was very apparent in the latter part of the half.
Juwann Springfield and Kellen Sweetwyne worked well together inside the key and the perimeter play also hinted at improvement from the first two games.
During the beginning of the second half, LPC came out strong defending the post and moving the ball on offense. They led by nine points within minutes, but shortly after that total was nearly inverse.
LPC stopped moving the ball around and was unable to use what had aided them in their runs and instead played soft bas- ketball. The lead changed a few more times but at the 12 minute mark, CCC began a lead that was never reversed.
CCC went on an 11-to-noth- ing run over nearly four minutes and put the nail in the coffin for LPC’s chance at bringing home the three foot high championship trophy.
The Hawks had a nice run dur- ing the tournament however and showed that they have a team that can remain competitive. Shabazz was the clear star of the team through all three games and has the potential to be the scoring leader if he keeps it up.

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