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Yuba City, Miners can’t mask rivalry

Just when you thought the Nevada Union-Yuba City rivalry couldn’t get any more heated, some of those closest to the two varsity boys basketball teams continue to show respect for each other.

Students from both schools were involved in a brawl off campus at a Grass Valley fast food restaurant following the Miners’ 59-50 win over Yuba City on Jan. 25. At least one student was treated at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital after being injured in the incident.

But back on the basketball floor, the rivalry between the two teams is apparently contained to the competition itself.



Take the situation Nevada Union junior Tyler Smith was facing last week, after suffering a broken nose during a physical education class.

Smith, NU’s leading scorer and the reigning Metro Conference MVP, wanted to be back on the floor, but doing so with a bare face would have left him vulnerable to an errant elbow.




NU head coach Jeff Dellis certainly wanted his star on the floor, so he dialed up someone he knew who had dealt with such a dilemma – none other than Yuba City head coach Brad McIntyre.

“I remembered that (Yuba City’s) Kevin Cordano wore a mask last year, after he had his front teeth knocked out,” Dellis said.

What Dellis found out was that Cordano’s father, a dentist, had essentially created the mask his son wore as a protective measure last season. But, in hearing about Smith’s predicament, the Cordanos came to NU’s rescue by molding a mask for the Miner.

“The only drawback is he’s not allowed to wear it against Yuba City,” NU athletic director Steve Pilcher joked.

The mask apparently has served him well.

After a shooting 1-of-8 in the first half of NU’s 61-46 win over Grant on Feb. 9 – his first game wearing the mask, Smith got things going in the second half for a 19-point night.

The Miners (13-13 overall, 8-3 Metro) travel to Yuba City (9-15, 3-7) for the Metro Conference season finale at 7 p.m. today. A win will earn the Miners a share of the conference crown for the third-straight season. A loss would leave Kennedy (14-11, 8-3) all alone atop the Metro and would put the Miners’ postseason plans in jeopardy.


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