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Yuba men's hoops set for Final Four
The Yuba College men's basketball team has made it further than any squad in school history and are just a mere two wins away from winning a state title.
But for the 49ers to reach Sunday's championship game, they will first have to get past an Antelope Valley team that is already accustomed to playing in the California Community College Athletic Association State Championships.
Antelope Valley, of Lancaster, has made five tournament semifinal appearances over the years (1953, '56, '64, 2004 and '06), but the Marauders have yet to win a state crown, a streak the 49ers hope to keep intact when the two teams tip off at Cosumnes River College in south Sacramento today at 5 p.m.
"On film, they look awfully talented," said Yuba coach Doug Cornelius. "I don't know if they're the best team we've faced this year, but they're definitely right up there."
The Marauders (24-7) have five players who stand 6-foot-6 or taller and are led by 6-3 shooting guard Jason Johnson, whose average of 15.5 points per game is tops on the team.
Point guard Da'Shawn Gomez, who is headed to Iona College on a scholarship, is second with 11.3 ppg, and 6-6 center Vadal Faniel puts up eight points per contest. Three other players average seven points per game for Antelope Valley.
"Their point guard is really solid and they have a 6-9 kid in the middle who is a good passer, so a lot of their offense runs through him," said Cornelius, who added that the Marauders are also loaded with good outside shooters.
The 49ers (32-3) will leave town for Sacramento at 8:30 a.m. today for a 10 a.m. shootaround at CRC. They will then head to a hotel to have lunch and rest up before the tonight's big game.
"They're excited," Cornelius said. "It's funny, I was talking to a lot of coaches and most people think (today) will be the end of the road for us, and it may be, but the kids don't think that way.
"At this point, anything can happen and they think they can win the whole thing. Hopefully, we can do it for two more games."
Cornelius said the game plan for today's game is already in place and praised longtime assistant coach Ken Griffin for getting the team ready for its first ever Final Four appearance.
"Griff has done an unbelievable job preparing these kids," he said. "I think his eyes were bleeding from watching so much film."
In the other semifinal, Fresno City College (31-3) takes on Citrus of Glendora (28-1) at 7 p.m. Fresno won state titles in 1955, '63, 2005 and '07, and has made six Final Four appearances since 2003. Citrus is in the Final Four for the fourth time in five seasons and won the state title in 2010.
The championship game will be played on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.