On the final day of the regular season for both squads, River Valley High boys basketball team welcomed in rival Yuba City Thursday night for the finale between the schools in Capital Valley Conference action.
While the teams have struggled this year, the energy was not lacking one bit, because it is a rivalry, Yuba City senior guard Ryan Grace said.
“It’s the battle of the city at that point,” Grace said. “I have an older brother that played at YC. He was the quarterback for the football team and played on the basketball team so I was at every game. Being a kid you look up to this moment and now I am here.”
Grace and Yuba City got the best of River Valley to complete the sweep in league, 59-38 over the Falcons Thursday at River Valley.
Yuba City (13-15, 3-9 CVC) will now wait to see if it can grab a spot into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs when the brackets are unveiled on Saturday across all divisions.
Yuba City head coach Terry Evans feels that the team’s MaxPreps computerized ranking in D-II could earn the team an at-large berth into the postseason.
“Usually the top 16 teams in Division II go to the playoffs, we were 19 when the last report came out,” Evans said. “We are on the bubble where we could squeak in, but it depends on what happens with some of the teams and how many they decide to take.”
Regardless of the playoff results, Evans remains proud of the team’s effort in an ultra-competitive conference featuring some of the best in Northern California.
Yuba City struck first against River Valley, depleted by foul trouble early, building a 9-2 first-quarter lead capped by a 3-pointer at the opening-quarter buzzer from Luis Demaran. Following the perimeter dagger, Yuba City more than doubled up River Valley to expand its lead to 20-5 at halftime.
“They missed a few open shots early and once we started scoring we were able to get into our press – and that’s something we have been working on all year,” Evans said. “Tonight I think it really bothered them. It was nice to see the growth in the team from the beginning until now.”
River Valley (8-19, 0-11) finally secured a field goal for the first time since the opening 8 minutes, when Tayvione Brown dropped in a bucket at the 3 minute, 10-second mark of the second. The Honkers responded with a quick 8-1 run to close the first half with a 15-point lead.
Grace, one of the team’s senior floor generals, came out in the third with a nifty stop-and-go reverse lay-up and pull-up 3 to expand the lead to 25-7 on River Valley.
River Valley answered with a 3 from Hardev Chander and a defensive block courtesy of Manraj Sarai, closing the deficit to 16 points.
But the inside presence for River Valley was never a consistent threat all night as No. 2 scorer Gulbag Judge finished with just four points in limited minutes due to foul trouble. Brown led the Falcons with eight points, while Grace provided 10 points and two 3s and Saleem Rafiq swished 12 in the second half to lead Yuba City with 17 points.