The 49er men’s basketball team may not have finished with the record they would have liked (9-19), but some clutch play down the stretch, including a season ending 75-73 victory over Sierra, was enough to earn a No. 29 slot in the playoffs to face No. 4 Diablo Valley in the first round of the post season.
First year coach Doug Cornelius has injected a winning attitude into this young team. Cornelius insists that this group of freshmen has talent and heart, which will result in more wins next season.
Included in this young group is the clever guard from Sacramento, Kenny Smith. Smith showed that he belongs as he led the 49ers in scoring, bringing in just under 24 points per game. If the team were to choose an MVP, Smith would earn the notch.
Another talented young player that showed his skills this season was Fortrell Wallace. Wallace– known for his tenacious defense, great post play and outstanding rebounding ability– did just that. Being another freshmen, Wallace looks to improve even more next season.Other young guns that have contributed a tremendous amount this season are Adidas Jackson and Brett Ost, who brought much needed energy to the team. Both brought scoring and great defense to the team as well.
Although this group is young, they did have two returning players in Chad Wheaton and Matt Smith. Both players were very valuable to the team as they both brought important experience.However with the 12 freshmen comes lack of experience, which has contributed to the 49ers biggest problem, turnovers. Turnovers plagued the 49ers throughout the year, and it has cost them several games.Another problem the 49ers had was putting games away, causing them to suffer heartbreaking losses.One game that comes to mind is the game against the Consumnes River Chiefs on February 15, where the 49ers had many chances to blow the game open, but 30 turnovers allowed Consumnes to get back in the game and steal one from the 49ers.The turnover problems concern Coach Cornelius as the 49ers head into postseason play. He knows the team is capable of winning when they don’t rebound and turn the ball over, but says he wants to improve on it before the playoffs.
Surprisingly, one game the 49ers won was a game in which they did not rebound well and turned the ball over twenty-four times. In this game against Napa Valley, the 49ers were careless with the ball, but still won by 34 points. The game might have been filled with careless play, but it served as a clear example of 49er basketball this season.
During the game, point guard Tony Lewis amazed the crowd with a beautiful array of passing and alley-oop dunks. This game showed the great athleticism this team possesses and how much potential they will offer next year.
Before the year started, there was much doubt on how good this 49er team really was. Coach Cornelius showed that he is a great coach and understands the game as well as anybody. He turned this young group of kids into a great bunch of competitors aching to win. There is no doubt left that this Yuba team can compete with any squad.
Should Yuba beat the No. 4 seed they will advance to play either No. 13 Sac. City (19-11), or No. 20 Sequoias (19-13), on March 6.