The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
San Mateo County community college basketball teams haven’t had a ton of playoff experiences over the last 20 years.
But the last two years has seen a renaissance of sorts. Last year, the Cañada men’s team made a run to the Northern California semifinals and this season, both the College of San Mateo men and the Skyline women are in position to make the postseason.
“I just want to the ability to play our best basketball in February and March,” said CSM head coach Mike Marcial, who has led the Bulldogs into the playoff race in the program’s first year back after a 36-year hiatus.
Only the six conference champions receive automatic bids to the regional brackets of the state playoffs, leaving 13 at-large bids that are based on a mathematical formula that takes into account a team’s strength of schedule, among other factors.
CSM (7-5 Coast North, 13-13 overall) enter the final week of the regular season in a tie for third place in the Coast Conference North standings — the Bulldogs, Chabot and Foothill are all 7-5 in conference play. CSM will be at second-place Las Positas-Livermore Wednesday and host Chabot in the regular-season finale Friday.
Las Positas (9-3, 19-7) beat the Bulldogs 100-85, but CSM beat Chabot 81-74, both last month. Working in CSM’s favor is the fact that not only do the Bulldogs play in the toughest conference in Northern California, but they have also played 8 of the top 11 teams in Nor Cal.
“To be honest, I don’t have the specifics on what keeps us in or keeps us out,” Marcial said. “Our guys are just going to worry about [tonight]. That’s the only thing that matters because the rest is out of our hands.”
The Skyline women, on the other hand, are still in contention for one of those automatic berths that go to conference champs as the Trojans enter the final week in three-way tie for first place. All three teams — Skyline (7-2, 18-9), Chabot and San Francisco — have split games with each other, so another tiebreaker will have to be used to decide the Coast Conference North champion. Skyline snapped a two-game losing streak with a 44-23 win over Las Positas last week and will wrap up the regular season with a road game at Ohlone-Fremont Friday night. The Renegades are just 1-7 in conference play and Skyline beat them 54-44 Jan. 29.
San Mateo, Skyline and Cañada are all off to solid starts to the 2020 season, combining for an overall record of 25-8.
CSM (9-2 overall) saw its seven-game winning streak snapped with a 12-4 loss to College of Marin Tuesday.
Cañada (8-4) and Skyline (8-2), on the other hand, are riding winning streaks of five and four games, respectively. The Colts picked off Laney 4-2 yesterday, while the Trojans knocked off Solano, 9-1.
CSM saw its 12-game winning streak snapped a week after the California Community College Athletic Association released the first softball poll of the season, with the Bulldogs occupying the No. 1 spot in the state.
Diablo Valley, ranked No. 9 in Northern California, handed CSM (15-2 overall) its second loss of the season, a 5-4 decision in the first game of a doubleheader Tuesday.
The Bulldogs rebounded in the nightcap, posting an 8-4 win over the Vikings.
Track and field
Yan-Jun “Sophie” Liao set a new personal record in the 400, while the CSM men had a strong showing in field events.
Liao, who won the state title in the 100 and 200 last spring, ran a time of 59.70 at the Monterey Peninsula Open Track Invitational Saturday. It’s the top mark in the state early in the season and eclipsed her previous best time of 59.74 set last April.
Laughlin, a freshman out of Aragon, won the javelin with a throw of 164 feet to win by 2 1/2 feet. Nickolas Poelinger (sophomore, San Mateo) finished sixth with a throw of 128-6.
Laughlin also posted a sixth-place finish in the shot put with a throw of 41-6.
Gerasimo Kondaris (so., Capuchino) was second in the pole vault with a height of 12-11.5.