The Yuba College Men’s Basketball team won during their first opportunity for competitive play during the Shasta invitational Friday, November 21 through Saturday, November 22. The 49ers advanced to the championship game of the invitational where they faced the traditional Bay Valley foe, American River College.
The 49ers had a strong 44-33 lead at the end of the first half, and brought it up to a 14 point lead by scoring a 3-point shot at the start of the second. However, the Beavers stepped up, scoring 16 uncontested points, bringing the score to 47-49 for American River in the second half.
After American River took the lead, Yuba countered, leaving the Beavers trailing by 2 points. The 49ers controlled the rest of the game resulting in a 72-68 win and a tournament championship.
The tournament championship showed that the team is ready for a repeat of last year’s championship season. During the 2002-2003 season the 49ers won the Bay Valley Conference title for the first time since the 1984-1985 season. Head Coach Doug Cornelius is hoping for another conference championship although this year the league is a lot more competitive. However, Cornelius feels that that the 49ers can compensate for this because they are “much bigger and more athletic” than the 2002-2003 team.
This season’s team is benefiting from the return of four players from last year’s championship team as well as Brian Videau who transferred back to Yuba after being absent from last year’s team. Videau along with Lawrence Wright, Cameron Walls, John Sheets and Rodney Hannah will make up the 49er starting line-up. At the Shasta Invitational, Walls was named all-tournament player and Wright averaged 21 points per tournament game.
Cornelius is also anxious to see the talent of some new players put into action. New to the team is Ryan Scales, a transfer from Sierra College who averaged 18 points per game last season. This season’s Yuba team is also benefiting from the added talent of Richard Maricer who previously played for the Swedish National Basketball Team.
While the team is exited about the new additions, Cornelius is going to feel the loss of three of last year’s star players, Brett Ost, Kenny Smith and Matt Otten. Ost, the 2002-2003 Conference MVP, is currently playing for U.C. Riverside, Smith is currently starting on the Angelo State team in Texas and Otten is playing for San Francisco State University.
Cornelius, however, is confident in this year’s team and believes that they can rise to the challenge of another conference title. He said, “Eight to ten of my guys can score over 20 points any given night and seven of our new guys averaged 27 points per game in high school.”
The Yuba College Men’s basketball team will have their next opportunity for competitive play during the Reedly Invitational on Saturday, December 13 at home. The team hopes to give out 5,000 free tickets for community members, in hopes of having the gym packed. Cornelius said, “we are playing to win everything we do… we could care less about what the other teams are doing, we’re just concerned with our team’s performance.”