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Yuba College opens home schedule tonight with tourney
49ers to face Sac City, American River
It's been about eight months since Yuba College turned the state championship at Cosumnes River College into a home away from home and 49ers coach Doug Cornelius is still buzzing about it.
At the California Community College Athletic Association basketball championships in March, the 49ers made history by finishing second in the state.
Yuba fans came in droves to south Sacramento to show their support for the 49ers, propelling Yuba past Antelope Valley College in the semifinals and all the way through the season-ending loss to Fresno City College.
The crowd that showed up in Linda when the 49ers took on Santa Rosa in the state quarterfinals was the largest in school history.
Yuba College basketball's fan base continues to grow and is quickly developing a vast following around the Mid-Valley.
"Our support was so incredible from this community, bringing all those people down to the state championship game," Cornelius said. "I had to do something to get all of those people to continue to come out and watch us play at the college."
The result is the first annual 49er Four-Teamer, a four-team tournament which begins tonight at Yuba College as the 49ers open their home schedule against Sacramento City College at 7 p.m.
The tournament tips off at 5 p.m. with Shasta taking on American River. Yuba will face AR on Friday night at 7.
In years past, Yuba would usually just play one home game over the span of November and December before opening Bay Valley Conference play in January.
"Now, the local community can come out here and see four different community colleges play in our gym, which they've never been able to do before," Cornelius said. "I hope the community comes out and continues the support that they gave us from last year's run because that was one of the most unbelievable things.
"I still have dreams about how incredible that was."
Yuba (1-2) opened its season on Nov. 9 at the ever-competitive City College of San Francisco Tournament where the Niners faced No. 1-ranked San Francisco, No. 4 Mt. San Antonio and Porterville over a three-day span.
Yuba lost by one to San Francisco and overcame a 15-point deficit to Mt. San Antonio only to fall in the end. The 49ers' lone win was over Porterville.
With just three sophomores, only two of which saw playing time last season, the Niners are still trying to find an identity.
"We're going to go through growing pains," Cornelius said. "We've got some very good athletes, they play very hard, they're just young. We just have to grow up quick."
One of those sophomores is Achoki Moikobu, a key contributor on last season's squad off the bench, is now starting at shooting guard and averaging 16 points per game.
Running the point is freshman Akachi Okugo, an All-Metro selection out of Jesuit, who has 21 assists in three games and averages 9 points per game.
Optimist Game MVP and fellow All-Metro pick Chris Smith, a 6-foot-4 freshman from Antelope's Center High, averages 13 points per game from the small forward spot.
Gary Melvin, Jaysen Williams, Vic West Jr. and Jeremy Bubier are all splitting time in the post.
After their 1-2 showing in San Francisco, the 49ers went from being ranked No. 3 in the state, to not being ranked in both the state and Northern California polls by the California Community College Men's Basketball Coaches Association.
"We have talent, we just have to figure it out," Cornelius said. "You have to be very patient and coach them as hard as you can. Last year's team knew what they had to do to be good, this team doesn't know yet.
"Once they figure that out, I think we're going to have a chance to be pretty good."