Yuba rallies past Napa Valley to secure 26-2 regular season

Feb. 23—It was not a typical showing for the Yuba College men's basketball team Thursday as it rounded out the regular season looking to put a stamp on a second straight 26-2 season.

The 49ers trailed early and were uncharacteristically behind a three-win Napa Valley College team at halftime. NVC had hit six 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes to secure a two-point lead at the break.

"This was about as ugly as we played in a long time," Yuba head men's basketball coach Doug Cornelius said.

Ugly didn't translate to a defeat as Yuba rallied, thanks in part to leading scorer Devon Malcolm coming through at both ends, and a "bright spot" performance from another sophomore, Nick Von Zboray. Together, alongside numerous other standout performances, 49ers would end the regular season with an 88-76 win over Napa Valley College to finish 26-2 and 16-0 in the Bay Valley Conference to claim its second straight title.

"For (Von Zboray) to have a game like that on sophomore night was pretty special (and) was my bright spot," Cornelius said. "He can absolute shoot it, he had two games in high school of over 40 at (Ponderosa).

Von Zboray dropped in a team-high 15 points on five 3s — three coming in the opening half as Yuba trailed for most of the initial 20 minutes. Von Zboray filled in for the usual explosiveness of Malcolm, Majer Sullivan and Demarreya Lewis-Cooper

"I'm super happy for him because he's a kid that is so special," Cornelius said. "He works hard every single day and he's playing behind three really good guards."

Malcolm, who recently committed to D-I Cal Baptist in Riverside, came out like a man possessed with Yuba trailing 41-39 at halftime. The Medford native scored six of his 11 within the first three minutes of the second half and delivered a monster two-handed block on a Napa drive to help Yuba retake the lead early — one of five second-half lead changes.

The Storm would keep fighting, thanks to 23 points from Chris Farrington, and pulled back ahead 49-46 at the 15:55 mark. Yuba tied the game at 50 and pulled in front 54-53 on a bucket by Von Zboray off a pass in transition from Lewis-Cooper. A little later, Lewis-Cooper would be on the receiving end from Von Zboray to push it to 58-53 for the 49ers' biggest lead of the night.

Sullivan, with a dunk shot, ballooned the lead to 10 at the 11:05 mark — a cushion that proved to be enough to enable Yuba to escape with its 20th straight victory.

While Cornelius does not feel the team got better on Thursday, he is pleased with the effort and the second-half rally.

He feels the team has earned as high as a No. 2 seed when the Northern California Regional brackets are unveiled Sunday, but realistically, Yuba is likely headed for the five-line to guarantee a home first-round playoff game next week.

Women's basketball

NVC 75, Yuba College 65

Mickayla Passantino and Yuba City product Aubrey Whitright each delivered 16 points for the Yuba College women in a 75-65 loss at home to Napa Valley College in the regular season finale Thursday.

Yuba fell to 1-26 overall and winless in the BVC.

Marysville product Mercedes Yang chipped in 11, while Pamela Riedel added 10 for the 49ers.

Napa finished third at 10-4 in the BVC and 16-12 overall.