The Yuba men’s basketball team got off to a hot start against College of the Sequoias on Saturday night in Linda. The 3-point shots were raining down and Joseph De’laCerda’s post presence was excellent. The 49ers were rolling.
And then the second half happened.
After taking a 44-23 lead into halftime, the 49ers came out of the break cold. Sequoias was able chip away at the lead, slowly, but surely. It wasn’t until just over seven minutes into the second half that the 49ers scored their first bucket. By then the home team only led by 10 points.
Down the stretch the Giants hit some big-time 3-pointers to seal the deal, ending Yuba’s season by a final score of 71-69.
“I think this might be one of the toughest losses in my entire career,” Yuba College head coach Doug Cornelius said. “It’s one of those that’ll stick with you for awhile, I really just don’t know what happened,” he added.
Though multiple 49ers players tried to take blame after the game for their lack of free-throw shooting down the stretch, Cornelius and his staff believe it was the opening seven-plus minutes in the second half that costed the Bay Valley Conference champions the game.
“You just can’t do that and expect everything to be fine,” Cornelius said. “If we had even just played average basketball and scored a few buckets it probably would have been enough to put them away,” he said.
Sequoias took its first lead of the night, 58-56, with just under six minutes to go in regulation.
But the 49ers would start to show signs of life again, taking a 64-60 lead with 2:10 left to play.
And then the Giants responded with crowd-silencing three-pointers.
First it was Sequoias’ Ryan Johnson from the corner and then it was Tiyon Martin from the top of the arc. After each team then traded a few free-throws and before anyone in the Yuba College gym could blink, the Giants now led the home team 69-67 with 25.5 second left.
Yuba’s Cornell Greenwood would cut the margin down to one, 70-69 with a pair of free-throws. After the 49ers intentionally fouled Sequoias, Yuba would get one more opportunity down by two with 4.7 seconds on the clock.
Yuba’s Brandon Recek darted down the court and put up a mid-range shot at the buzzer, but it fell short, ending the 49ers’ season in dramatic fashion.
Despite the loss, Yuba was led by Recek with 22 points, Greenwood with 12 points and De’laCerda with 13 points.
As for the Giants, Johnson led the way with 22 points and Martin was a close second with 17 points.
Though the outcome was not what majority of those in attendance wanted, Cornelius emphasized after the game what kind of impact the crowd had.
“They were awesome, anytime you get a huge crowd like that to create a hostile environment it helps tremendously,” Cornelius said. “We can’t thank them enough for their support,” he added.
Yuba ends its season with an overall record of 24-6.