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Hawks look to close CCC competitive gap
• CV boys basketball hope for breakthrough season
Gage Mastropierro & Jayson Casias
Gage Mastropierro (10), Jayson Casias and Central Valley’s boys basketball program will target improvement this winter. - photo by Dale Butler

Central Valley High School’s boys basketball program has yet to experience a breakthrough season since moving to the Central California Conference as part of Sac-Joaquin Section league realignment in 2018-19.

The Hawks have amassed a 6-30 record against CCC competition.

Sixth-year head coach Mike Rodriguez remains hopeful heading into the 2022-23 season.

“I’m not going to make any predictions,” he said. “I just want to see the kids play hard and compete every night. If they do that, we’ll be in position to win games.”

Central Valley returns seven players from a season ago, including Jeremy Alvarez (Sr.), Gage Mastropierro (Sr.), Jomari Ocasiones (Sr.), Jake Olson (Sr.), Cameron Bradshaw (Jr.), Jagdeep Hundal (Jr.) and Alex Prado (Jr.).

The Hawks have five newcomers: Jayson Casias (Sr.), Andre Flores (Jr.), Mario Gonzalez (Jr.), Andrew Ruiz (Jr.) and Jellmar Mata (So.).

Jordan Powers, Yoshi Kumar, Willy Souksavath and Erick Pena were lost to graduation.

Powers and Kumar ranked first and third on the team in scoring.

Powers was selected to the CCC Second Team. He averaged 15.6 points and 7.0 rebounds while logging playing time at forward/guard.

Kumar was Central Valley’s CCC Sportsmanship Award winner. He averaged 7.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game at guard/forward.

Mastropierro was an honorable-mention CCC selection. The Hawks’ second-leading scorer averaged 13.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game. 

“It’s going to be pretty challenging even though we have a lot of returners."
Coach Mike Rodriguez

“It’s going to be pretty challenging even though we have a lot of returners,” Rodriguez said. “We’re still young. We got a good amount of shooters on our team. We don’t see a huge drop off when we bring players off the bench. A lot of the guys are friends. They hang out at and outside of school. That helps out our chemistry quite a bit.”

Promoted to varsity as a sophomore, Mastropierro will serve as team captain on this year’s squad.

“He’s set a really good example for everybody in our program by showing up to everything,” Rodriguez said. “Weights. Offseason workouts. Morning workouts. He’s put a lot of work in.”

Winless in 2020-21, Central Valley amassed an 8-20 overall record and finished in last place in the CCC standings (0-12) this past winter.

The Hawks dropped 16 of their final 17 games following a 7-4 start.

Central Valley had a 20-day gap between games during the course of the season due to COVID-19 protocols.

“We haven’t won a league game in two years,” Rodriguez said.

Central Valley’s conference schedule will feature home-and-away games against Patterson, Atwater, Buhach Colony, Merced, Golden Valley and El Capitan.

Atwater (19-9, 9-3), El Capitan (18-10, 9-3), Merced (18-11, 9-3) and Patterson (17-11, 8-4) qualified for the postseason last winter.

Patterson was awarded an at-large berth.

The Hawks earned their last playoff appearance in 2016-17. Central Valley finished 10-16 and third overall in the Western Athletic Conference standings (6-4). Rodriguez was an assistant on head coach Darryl Dickson’s coaching staff.

The Hawks posted a combined record of 132-166, captured one league title and participated in the postseason three times under Dickson’s guidance from 2006-17.

Central Valley enjoyed its best year to date in 2014-15. The Hawks went 22-4, placed first in the WAC with a perfect 12-0 mark, reeled off 15 straight wins, qualified for the Division-III tournament and hosted their first-ever playoff game.

“The CCC is really tough,” Rodriguez said. “You can’t have any off nights in this league. We got to play hard every game. We got to be physical. We got to play our style, which is fast.”