Yuba in control of BVC
The last time Contra Costa College saw Yuba guard Mareceo Rutledge, the 49ers' freshman was battling flu symptoms and made just 4-of-17 shots in a loss.
The Comets are wishing it was an ill Rutledge they faced Monday night in a Bay Valley Conference game at Yuba.
Rutledge poured in 36 points - 28 in the second half - hit seven 3-pointers and collected five rebounds as the 49ers (18-7, 8-1) took a big step toward a conference title by taking sole possession of first place in the BVC with a dominating 103-77 victory.
“In the beginning, during games and whatnot, I'm not into it or whatever, so it takes me a minute to wake up,” Rutledge said. “But then I got my teammates on the side putting my head back in the game, telling me to shoot more. That's how I came out in the second half, just ready to play.”
Rutledge scored just 12 points in Yuba's 76-70 loss at Contra Costa (7-2 BVC) on Jan. 2 to open BVC play. The 49ers shot just 35 percent from the field and 55 percent from the free-throw line.
Yuba shot 56 percent from the floor in the second meeting, including 68 percent in the second half, and hit 15-of-20 free throws.
The 49ers just couldn't miss from the floor after halftime, hitting their first 11 shots and racing to a 75-59 lead. Yuba missed their first shot of the second half at the 11:32 mark.
Rutledge scored 18 points in the first five minutes of the second half. Four of those buckets dropped from beyond the arc, four came from inside the paint and two more fell from the free-throw line.
Yuba used screens to get him open in the corner for treys, and he managed to muscle inside for layups.
Yuba coach Doug Cornelius couldn't understand how Contra Costa was letting Rutledge get so wide open. But Cornelius also gave a lot of credit to his star guard for creating space.
“He knows how to move without the ball, find the open spaces, and that's to his credit,” Cornelius said. “That's from playing a lot of basketball. He knows how to play. He's mature and he knows what's going on on the court. ... I don't know why they leave him that wide open.”
The Comets did tighten their defense on Rutledge after he dropped in shot-after-shot early in the second, but he still found ways to convert.
“That's what makes him so tough, not only can he shoot the 3, but he can take you off the dribble, he can hit the mid-range shot and he can finish inside,” Cornelius said. “He's so physically strong that he's a tough matchup.”
Even with its torrid shooting from the floor, Yuba never fully pulled away from Contra Costa, who matched the 49ers shot-for-shot to hang around.
“Every time we hit a 3 or made a big shot, they answered right back with a
3,” Cornelius said. “It seemed like we'd get it to 15, 18 and they'd cut it to 12, we get it to 14, they cut it to 11. I was like are we ever going to pull away and there was still 10 minutes left in the half.”
Shortly after the 10 minute mark, Yuba did begin to pull away, and it was Rutledge who led the final charge.
He scored eight straight points to give Yuba a commanding 93-74 lead with 6:13 left. He followed a reverse layup on a dish from Trevor Pitts with a 3 from the corner and a 3 from the top of the key.
He received a standing ovation from the crowd after leaving the game with just over 2 minutes remaining.
Pitts dominated the Comets down low in the first half, scoring 12 of his 18 points. Aaron Garner added 13 points.
Contra Costa guard Duane Jones slashed his way to a team-high 23 points, and Greg Williams hammered inside for 22 points, 14 in the second half. Madiou Diouf added 15 for the Comets.
Jones scored 16 points in the first half, and the 49ers had no answer for the speedy guard. He hit two straight 3s to cut Yuba's lead to 34-29.
The 49ers then finished off the first half on a 12-4 run for a 46-33 advantage. Jones hit a running jumper just inside the free throw line at the buzzer.
“He's phenomenal,” Cornelius said. “We tried face guarding, tried doing everything to that kid and then he just sliced around us, made layups, hit 3s and got and-ones. He was pretty fun to watch.”
Appeal-Democrat reporter Justin Miller can be reached at 749-4796. You may e-mail him at email@example.com