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March 18, 2009 > Hayward's remarkable season ends

Hayward's remarkable season ends

By Giovanni Albanese Jr.
Photos By William Mancebo

When you finish fourth in a division, naturally you wouldn't be expected to go deep into post-season play. Well, the Hayward Farmers boys basketball team defied those odds in the 2008-09 season.

Playing in the same league - Hayward Area Athletic League (HAAL) - as perennial powerhouses, San Leandro (24-4, 14-1), Castro Valley (23-5, 12-3) and Bishop O'Dowd (20-8, 12-3), it's hard for a team like Hayward (21-9, 11-3) to get a sniff at the division crown. Although they didn't capture the HAAL title, their competitive league catapulted them to a number-one seed in the North Coast Section (NCS) Division II tourney.

After breezing through that bracket (the closest game being the 11-point margin of victory in the finals over #3 Northgate), Hayward was placed into the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Division II NorCal tournament as the #3 seed.

In the opening round of the CIF tourney (Tuesday, March 10), Hayward hosted Central Coast Section (CCS) Division II tournament runner up, and NorCal #6-seed, Archbishop Mitty, of San Jose.

Hayward, like all the games in their NCS Division II championship run, made relative ease of this one. Locking up on the defensive end, and exploding on offense, Hayward ran away and hid from Mitty. This game was never in question, as Hayward won, going away, 78-51.

With the win, Hayward assured themselves a spot in the NorCal Division II semifinals, which put them up against Sac-Joaquin Section (SJS) Division II champion, and NorCal #2 Rocklin, at Rocklin High on Thursday, March 12.

Hayward's run at a California state title came to an end against the SJS champion. However, they didn't go down without giving the host school a scare. In the most tightly-contested game of the entire Division II NorCal bracket, each team had a chance to win late in the game. In the end, Rocklin made the plays to advance to the finals, winning 50-49.

Rocklin went on to defeat St. Francis in the Division II NorCal Championship Game at Arco Arena in Sacramento on March 14, 70-65. They will go on to face Eisenhower, who prevailed in the SoCal portion of the DII bracket, on March 20.

Hayward ended its season with a 25-10 record overall. They will look to make another deep run into March next season, kicking off their 2009-10 campaign in early November.

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