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Local cagers take Yuba College to new heights

49’ers in the final four
By: Amanda Calzada Placer Herald Correspondent
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Yuba College mens basketball team, composed of players from Rocklin and Roseville, defeated Santa Rosa Junior College 73-70 Saturday to advance to the California Community College Athletic Association Final Four to be held at Cosumnes River College this weekend. The victory came on the heels of the 49’ers sixth-straight Bay Valley Conference title and its 35th consecutive victory in that league since January 2010. This season’s effort also landed them the No. 2 spot in the California Community College Athletic Association Northern Region rankings with a 26-3 record; with Saturday’s victory they are now 32-3 and the Northern Region’s No. 1 seed. “We share the ball and play unselfish,” said head coach, Doug Cornelius, who has led the 49’ers to numerous accolades over the past decade. As of Feb. 14, the 49’ers had locked up their seventh BVC crown in 10 years. In the past six seasons, the team has attained a Bay Valley Conference record of 82-6. In a 93-69 victory over Merritt College of Oakland earlier this year, 6-3 sophomore Spencer Butterfield scored 42 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and had five assists and five steals. Butterfield, a graduate of Del Oro, accomplished the feat taking only 19 shots from the field. Yuba’s ongoing success is especially noteworthy given the five new faces added to the roster that included Butterfield. Two are celebrated Rocklin alumni Cody Kale and Anthony Romero. The Thunders’ Sean Harris was also on the roster until he was sidelined by injury. Joining them are Roseville’s Kevin Crabb, who came up huge in the Santa Rosa game, and Woodcreek’s Nick Alongi. Cornelius said the group is more cohesive than that of years prior and credits the overall success to the team itself. The 49’ers coach thought the team he had last year would be the one to fulfill his goal of a CCCAA championship, but this year’s club proved to be full of surprises. “We have had seven different players lead us in scoring over the season. I’m not a big stat guy on who’s scoring. I’m a stat guy with assists, steals, rebounds, which are the things that make a team better,” said Cornelius. Toward the end of last Saturday’s contest Crabb hit two huge baskets in the paint to stymie a Bear Cubs’ rally late in the game. Crabb and Romero also hit free throws down the stretch to help seal the win. Kale scored 12 in the game, Butterfield and Romero 11 each; all three sat out much of the game in foul trouble. The 6-8 Crabb scored 10 points, pulled down 11 rebounds, and blocked two shots. Yuba College, now the No.1 seed from the Northern Region, will play Antelope Valley College (24-7), the No. 2 seed from the Southern Region. Game time is 5 p.m. at CSR. The second game will feature Citrus College (28-1) against Fresno City College (31-1) at 7 p.m. The championship game is 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Yuba College began its season in November with the toughest preseason schedule in recent history. The club concluded pre-conference play with a 15-3 record and ranked No. 6 in California. The 49’ers also concluded 2011 with two single game wins with a home victory over Feather River and a road victory over Sierra College. Yuba ended the calendar year in an impressive manner having participated in five tournaments: San Francisco, Palomar College, Modesto, Monterey College, and Santa Rosa. The 49ers placed third, second, third, first and first respectively. Cornelius said that while the team had twice avenged an earlier loss to Santa Rosa, the defensive line always strives to improve. It improved enough to make it three games over the Bear Cubs. Santa Rosa and Fresno have been Yuba’s most challenging opponents as both teams won their league championships this year. For more information about games and announcements, visit yccd.edu/yuba/athletics/basketball/men/announcements.php. Also go online to appealdemocrat.com, or cccaasports.org/basketball/men. California Community College Athletic Association Mens Basketball Championships Final Four Cosumnes River College Saturday, March 10 5 p.m. – Yuba College vs. Antelope Valley College 7 p.m. – Citrus College vs. Fresno City College Championship Game 3:30 p.m., Sunday, March 11