State dreams end for Bear Cub men, women

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Yuba rallied from a six-point deficit in the final 10 minutes to defeat visiting Santa Rosa JC, 73-70, Saturday night in the NorCal Regional men’s basketball finals.

Yuba will be one of Northern California’s two representatives in the CCCAA state tournament next weekend in Elk Grove.
This is the second year in a row SRJC has been one game away from making it to the final four. Last year, the Bear Cubs lost to City College of San Francisco in the fourth round of the regionals.

Neither team led by more than six in Saturday’s game. After the first half ended 33-33, the Bear Cubs took the lead and seemed in good position to spring the upset.

However, the Forty-Niners came back to take a three-point lead in the final minute. Sama Taku’s two free throws cut the deficit to one, but Yuba responded by hitting a pair from the foul line.

The Bear Cubs had a chance to force overtime in the final seconds, but Taku’s open 25-footer hit the rim and bounced out.

“Yuba beat us on the offensive boards,” coach Craig McMillan said. “That was the difference in the game. Overall, we played well, but they got too many second-chance points. They’re a very good team, especially playing up here in Marysville.”

Taku, in his final game for the Bear Cubs, scored 27. The Big 8 Conference’s Most Valuable Player scored 18 of those in the second half. The point guard has drawn interest from four-year colleges and will likely receive a scholarship.
Connor Gillett finished with 11 and Max Fujii had nine.

Jordan Salley, who scored six, will be flying to Chicago today to attend a memorial service for his father. The athletic department collected contributions to purchase the sophomore’s airline ticket.
Yuba, the second seed in the NorCal brackets, has won 21 straight and will take a 32-3 to the state finals. Three of those victories were over SRJC. The Bear Cubs won the first meeting between the two school on Nov. 12 in the CCSF Tournament.

The Bear Cubs, the No. 3 seed, finished 26-6 and achieved two milestones during the season. In November, for the first time in school history, they were ranked No. 1 in the state and then they won the Big 8 title.

“It was a very successful season,” McMillan said. “I’d rank it as one of the best in the 12 years I’ve been at the JC.
“We had a lot of injuries to contend with and it seems like every time someone got hurt, someone always stepped up to fill the void. This group was unselfish and always played as a team. I enjoyed coaching them.”

WOMEN: FOOTHILL 57, SRJC 49

The dream of a second straight CCCAA state tournament championship ended for the Santa Rosa JC women Saturday night in Los Altos Hills as the Bear Cubs fell to Foothill, 57-49.

Santa Rosa trailed by 10 points midway through the first half and that proved too difficult to overcome. The Bear Cubs got within four with 1:32 remaining, but costly turnovers kept them from getting closer.

Taller Foothill came up with 17 offensive rebounds, turning a majority of those into second-chance points. The Bear Cubs also hurt their chances with poor free-throw shooting. They connected on only 16 of 29.

At halftime, it was 25-18 and Foothills maintained at least that much of a lead until the final minutes when Santa Rosa made a final push.

Jen Tsurumoto, the Big 8 Conference Player of the Year, led the Bear Cubs with 18 points. Anandii Jiminez and Whitney Edens scored nine apiece.

Santa Rosa, the No. 5 seed, would’ve advanced to the CCCAA state championships with a win. Last year’s SRJC women’s team was the school’s second to capture a state title. The Bear Cubs also won it all in 1988.

“We had high expectations after last year,” coach Lacey Campbell said. “We lost a number of front-line players from that team, so it was a question of how fast the newcomers came around.

“They molded in after a few games and we had a successful season. It would’ve been great to get back to the state tournament, but the girls should be proud of what they accomplished.”

Along the way to a 24-7 season, the Bear Cubs finished first in the Big 8.

Foothill, the top seed in the NorCal brackets, is 29-4.