Natomas Nighthawks Beat Yuba City, Win TCC Title

Mehki Williams (2) makes a free throw in the fourth quarter as Natomas High beat Yuba City 70-56.

Mekhi Williams (2) makes a free throw in the fourth quarter as Natomas High beat Yuba City 70-56.

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

YUBA CITY – Natomas High School boys basketball ends its eight-year run in the Tri-County Conference the same way the Nighthawks came into the league – with the title.

Coming into tonight’s game at Yuba City, the Nighthawks and the Honkers were tied for first place in the TCC with 7-1 records. Yuba City beat Natomas the first time around in league play by nine points, so a double-digit win would seal it for the Nighthawks with one game to go.

And that’s just what Natomas High did.

Natomas High beat Yuba City 70-56 led by Mekhi Williams with 19 points and a spectacular 18-point, 14-rebound performance from Phillip Morgan.

“It felt good. We had to fight for it,” Morgan said. “It was a tough fight, but we pulled it off.”

After a rough 5-18 season a year ago, Natomas High sophomore coach Brian Hamilton spent the final moments of tonight’s game high-fiving his players on the bench, knowing the Feb. 12 win clinched the title.

“It’s great for the kids who have stuck with it,” Hamilton said. “(I’m) happy for the ones who had to endure through last season and just stuck through and listened and just continued to get better.”

Yuba City (18-9, 7-2) came out of the first quarter with an 11-10 lead on a buzzer beating left handed layup from junior Angel Hernandez.

Then Morgan decided that he wanted to show the road crowd, and busload of Natomas High students who made the trek up Highway 99, that he can dunk with the best of them.

Morgan had three dunks in the first half for the Nighthawks (14-8, 8-1) including a two-handed jam to start the second quarter.

“It was fun,” he said. “When we are sharing the ball and getting outlets like that, the game can be very fun.”

Early in the third quarter, the Nighthawks clung to a 24-17 lead. Jalen Manning earned 10 of the next 16 points for Natomas High. The Nighthawks scored 25 points in the third quarter alone.

“It’s great,” Williams said of Manning’s scoring output in the third. “It relieves the pressure off me that I can rely on my teammates to do big things.”

Manning finished with 15 points. Hernandez and Aran Dhillon led the Honkers with 19 points. Dhillon had a game-high 17 rebounds.

But Natomas High out-rebounded Yuba City 39-25 and the Nighthawks forced 25 turnovers, including 17 in the first half. The Honkers also shot just 19 percent (4-21) in the first half thanks in large part to Morgan.

“What we worked on the last few days was rebounding and defending and Phil had to get back to what he was doing last year, and that was defending and being our energy guy,” Hamilton said. “When he rebounds, his game goes to another level.”

Yuba City coaching staff, knowing that a double-digit loss would take them out of the title hunt, began subbing players in during possession changes late in the game. Starters played offense and reserves racked up fouls, sending Natomas High players to the foul line.

Williams, just a freshman, went 10-12 from the line in the fourth quarter, including 5-6 in the final minute to secure the double-digit win.

Natomas High, which will enter the Golden Empire League next season, won its third TCC title. Natomas High and Yuba City tied for the league title in 2007-08 and the Nighthawks went 15-0 in league the season prior.

Natomas High will host neighborhood rivals Inderkum High School on Friday. The Tigers beat Pioneer High School 83-65 on Wednesday in the regular season finale. It will be varsity double header with the junior varsity boys starting the night off at 4 p.m.

Inderkum secured the third and final playoff spot in the TCC with its win over Pioneer High. Friday’s game will be all about bragging rights in the last game the two neighborhood teams will play as league opponents for the foreseeable future. Inderkum will remain in the TCC.

“It’s still a great opportunity to do it in front of the fans,” Williams said. “It’s a rivalry game. I love that type of environment.”


  1. Gary rhodes says

    Will be ashame to these players who will lose the title and season because of head coach brian hamilton illegaly recruiting players. Oh i forgot to add that he is a drug dealer (marijuana) which is still ILLEGAL!!

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