COLUMBIA -- Since he was battling flu symptoms, the last thing Samuel Yeager needed was to play overtime in the second game of the three-day Columbia Holiday Tournament.
But the Modesto High product not only battled through the illness to score 35 points, he led Modesto Junior College to an improbable victory.
Yeager drilled 3-pointers in back-to-back overtime possessions to rally the Pirates from a five-point deficit to the lead, which they then held for a 93-89 victory over Yuba Monday morning.
MJC (9-8) survived to play in the consolation final, a noon start today at Oak Pavilion against Cabrillo.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Merced Sun-Star
Overcoming the illness of their leading scorer was not the most pressing of the Pirates' worries. On Sunday, in a loss to Siskyous, Yuba (11-6) had 28 offensive rebounds.
MJC coach Paul Brogan knew that if Yuba -- the No. 7 team in Northern California -- matched that effort on Monday, his Pirates would be out of the tournament after two games.
"The big challenge I gave to the players before the game was to keep Yuba off the boards," Brogan said. "Honestly, I doubted we could do it."
But with Harry Smith grabbing 12 rebounds and Yeager 10, MJC limited Yuba to five offensive rebounds, while the Pirates had a 45-32 advantage on the boards overall.
There was a strategy involved. On Sunday night, Siskiyous, outmanned under the basket much like Modesto, had success batting the ball away instead of trying to come down with the rebounds.
"We started tipping the ball out of the key like Siskiyous did," Brogan said. "We ended up getting some transition baskets out of it."
The decision still came down to the overtime, and MJC appeared in trouble when Yuba began the extra session on a 6-1 run to take an 82-77 lead. That's when Yeager hit the back-to-back shots from long range to give the Pirates a lead they never again would relinquish.
Nick Storment had 19 points for Modesto, connecting on nine of 11 shots from the foul line. Smith added 14 and Brett Sayad 10. Mayse Walker had 18 points for Yuba, which was eliminated on the second day of a tournament for the first time this decade.
LASSEN 75, COLUMBIA 67 -- The ClaimJumpers' one chance to pull off the semifinal upset was to jump out to a lead and hope the shots kept falling. But when Lassen instead did the jumping by scoring the game's first 10 points, Columbia found itself playing 38 minutes of catch-up.
An 8-0 Jumpers' run briefly pulled them to within three points at 20-17, and they were within 56-50 with 11:30 remaining in the game when Jared Lunsford hit a 3-pointer. But Columbia's offense went dry for nearly 7½ minutes in a 12-4 Cougars' run that sealed the Jumpers' fate.
Lassen will meet Siskiyous at 7 p.m. for the tourney title, while Columbia will battle Chabot for the consolation title at 3:30 p.m.
Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2300.