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Home sweet home for Yuba College
Niners rout Sac City in tourney opener
As much as he enjoyed the run last year, Achoki Moikobu knows it's over.
Yuba College's 6-foot-1 sophomore shooting guard was a key contributor on last season's state runner-up team, the best season in Yuba men's basketball history.
Moikobu still keeps in contact with teammates from last year and was even exchanging text messages on Thursday with last year's state Player of the Year Spencer Butterfield, now at Utah State.
Instead of running the floor with guys like Butterfield, Cody Kale, De'Aundray Robinson and Anthony Romero, Moikobu is getting accustomed to new teammates like Akachi Okugo and Christopher Smith.
Moikobu is ready to wipe the slate clean and take over as the 49ers' new leader.
"Guys look up to me this year," Moikobu said. "Last year, I was one of the younger guys so I looked up to everybody. This year, I'm trying to lead by example."
He set a pretty good example on Thursday.
Moikobu scored a game-high 22 points and the 49ers opened play at the first annual 49er Four-Teamer tournament with a 93-79 win over Sacramento City College in Linda, delivering a birthday victory for associate head coach Ken Griffin.
After spending last season as the back-up point guard, Moikobu has moved to the 2-spot where he's flourishing as the Niners' main scoring threat.
He showed off his range with three 3-pointers and mixed in some nice drives to the basket.
"I try to be the first person in the gym and the last one to leave every day," Moikobu said. "I learned a lot last year, and this year I can pass it down to the new guys."
And those new guys are doing their part as well.
Okugo, Yuba's freshman point guard out of Jesuit High, scored 15 for the Niners and ran the offense effectively with 10 assists.
Yuba (2-2) led from start to finish and went into halftime with a 44-29 lead, helped by an 11-0 run right before intermission. Moikobu scored 16 of his 22 points in the first half.
Okugo wasn't the only freshman making an impact.
Smith, the Pioneer Valley League and Optimist Game MVP as a senior at Center High last season, scored 15 points as well and was labeled by coach Doug Cornelius as the "best shooter in Sacramento" last year.
The 49ers' only other sophomore, 6-foot-4 guard Yev Dyachenko, showed off his own smooth shooting stroke with 12 points, nine of which came by way of 3-pointer.
Yuba's contingent of post players, including Jaysen Williams, Vic West Jr., Jeremy Bubier and Gary Melvin performed well also.
Cornelius wasn't fazed at all by Yuba's exclusion from the latest California Community College Men's Basketball Association poll; Sac City was ranked eighth in Northern California and 17th in the state coming into Thursday's game.
Yuba's only losses are to the No. 1 team in the state (City College of San Francisco) and No. 4 Mt. San Antonio.
"We haven't played in two and a half weeks so all they know about us is that we were 1-2," Cornelius said. "This is the first time we've been out of the rankings in eight years, but it doesn't matter to us.
"It's where you are at the end of the year that matters."
Yuba will conclude its tournament tonight at 7 p.m. against another Big 8 Conference school — American River. Many players on the Beavers' roster played basketball in high school with several 49ers players.
Cornelius said AR's size will make tonight's game a huge challenge.
"They're going to come at us," Cornelius said. "It's going to be an unbelievable game."