It was the first time in Yuba College history that its men’s basketball team has made it into the Elite Eight.
However, the 2003-2004 Yuba College Men’s basketball season ended March 6 with the team suffering an overtime defeat to the College of the Sequoias 84-82 during the semi-final round of the California Community Colleges Men’s Basketball Coaches Association Regional Playoffs in Visalia.
Forty-niners forward Lawrence Wright hit a three pointer with 16 seconds in regulation, and after the Giants missed a last second shot, the game went to overtime. In the extra period, the 49ers and Giants continued to trade baskets, but in the end, the 49ers missed several free throws, which could have given them the lead. The Giants were able to hit their free throws down the stretch and move on to the Final Four in San Diego.
“It was a tough road game for us,” the former Wheatland High standout said about the loss. “We came out aggressive and hungry. We kept trading baskets with them, back and forth. Toward the end of the first half though, we made a little run and we were in the locker room excited. We were pumped up, and then we let them start the second half on fire.”
“But we hung tough and we got the game close,” continued Wright. “We were just not able to hit the free throws, and their crowd was all over us.”
The 49ers, the 2003 Bay Valley Conference Champions, still had an impressive season. They finished with a regular season record of 22-6 with a mark of 10-4 against conference opponents, finishing third in the BVC East Division.
But key losses to the San Joaquin Delta Mustangs, the Sacramento City College Panthers and two losses against hated rival, the American River College Beavers, hurt their chances of not only a second conference title outright, but contributed to the 49ers receiving a number 10 seed in the CCCMBCA tournament.
“We had a good season,” Wright said. “The guys played hard, and we all came together as a family over the course of the season. When things looked tough, we all depended on each other, especially on the road. That’s when you know your guys got your back. This was a good year, even though we fell short of the goal we really wanted to accomplish.”
Yuba College Men’s basketball coach Doug Cornelius, in his third season with the team and last year’s BVC East Coach of the Year, was impressed with the play of his team, which featured eight freshman. Wright, along with forward Rodney Hannah, was named to the BVC All Conference Team. Last season, Wright was named to the team as an honorable mention.