BY TREVOR HORN
THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz
Do not tell the Natomas High School boys varsity basketball team this season doesn’t mean anything.
Pride, improvement and playing the role of spoiler is driving the Nighthawks.
Led by a 34-point performance by Phillip Morgan, the Nighthawks defeated Yuba City High School 71-69 in a thriller Friday night at Natomas High.
“The hustle and fighting through mistakes and not hanging our heads, was the biggest difference in this one,” Natomas High head coach Brian Hamilton said.
The Nighthawks have won five of the last seven games after starting the season 1-15.
Tonight’s win comes on the heels of last week’s heart-break loss to River Valley High School. And this game almost ended the same way – except Cameron Graham grabbed a last-second rebound.
Yuba City (10-15, 2-7) attempted a shot for the win with five seconds remaining, but the ball bounced off the rim and Graham grabbed the rebound, icing the win for Natomas High (6-17, 5-4).
Graham scored just one point for the Nighthawks, but he filled up the stat sheet with seven rebounds, four steals, two assists and two block shots.
“The points don’t really matter, the points will come with Phil (Morgan) and Jamison (Lyons),” Graham said. “Those are the (players) we try to hit the most. So it all worked out.”
Phillip Morgan scored 17 points in the first half for Natomas High, but the highlight of the night was his two-handed dunk with five seconds left in the third quarter giving the Nighthawks a 55-52 lead.
A play like that only happens because sophomore Jayme Morgan hustled to the corner to grab a rebound and threw a pass to Phillip Morgan to set up the dunk.
“My teammates helped me get to 34,” Phillip Morgan said. “Especially rebounds and getting assists.”
Added Hamilton of Jayme Morgan’s speed on the court: “He has a ton of potential. Once he gets the hustle plays going, that’s going to be the difference.”
Marcellus McCrary chipped in with 12 points for Natomas High and Jamison Lyons had nine. Louis Mowers led Yuba City with 16 points.
Natomas High will now get the chance to play spoiler against neighborhood rival Inderkum High School on Tuesday, Feb. 12. The Tigers are tied with River Valley High School for first place in the Tri-County Conference. A loss would hurt Inderkum’s chances of hosting a first-round playoff game and possibly keep them from the program’s first TCC title if coupled with River Valley win over Yuba City next week.
“It’s very fun and an exciting time for Natomas basketball,” Hamilton said.
Natomas High lost to River Valley and its first meeting against Yuba City by three points in each game. Reverse the standings in those two games and the Nighthawks could be playing for the league title Tuesday instead of spoiler against one
“That close,” said Hamilton, speaking on what could have been. “It’s exciting.”
Inderkum beat Pioneer 71-54 in Woodland Friday night without starters LD Dhaliwal and Andrew Ignont who were both out with injuries.