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Mercer Men’s Basketball Enters Region 19
Playoffs as No. 1 Seed


West Windsor, N.J. – Mercer County Community College's (MCCC's) men’s basketball team has clinched the regular season Region 19 title, earning the top seed in the Region 19 playoffs, which begin this week.  The Vikings are 22-3, have won 14 consecutive games and are currently ranked 15th in the nation in NJCAA Division II basketball. 

Despite their amazing run and season, Coach Howard Levy says it's way to early to celebrate. “It’s too bad Region 19 is not like the Ivy League, where if you finish first in the regular season you get the automatic bid to the national tournament,” Levy joked.

Though the most important games are ahead, the Vikings have a track record of success tha tshould add to their confidence.  They have had some close games late in the season, including a 3-point win over Manor last Saturday, but have continued to find ways to win even their closest contests.

Front row, from left, Ezren Bell, David Johnson, Dashante Alexander, Kevin Alexis and Kenyatta Long; back row, from left, Head Coach Howard Levy, Jaylen Pickett, Tyliek Kimbrough, Dean Blank, Daquan Hargrove, Mustafa El-Amin, Petar Milivojevic, and Assistant Coach Stanley Tuchez. Not pictured: Assistant Coach Jordan Ingram.

Veteran leadership is one of the big reasons for the Vikings’ success, as four of Mercer’s five sophomores are starters.  Sophomore David Johnson (Philadelphia, PA/Communications Tech) is averaging 19 points per game, placing him as the 29th leading scorer in the nation.  Johnson is also one of the nation’s top free throw shooters (23rd at 82.1%) and is 19th in the country in steals per game, averaging 2.5. 

Johnson isn’t the only Viking who is a national stat leaders. Freshman Daquan Hargrove (Trenton, NJ/Daylight/Twilight) is currently 8th in the nation in field goal percentage, hitting 47.5% of his shots this season.  The Vikings also have one of the top offenses in the country and as a team are 26th in field goal percentage at 47.5%.

In addition to Johnson and Hargrove, sophomores Tyliek Kimbrough (Brooklyn, NY/Boys and Girls), Mustafa El-Amin (Mt. Holly, NJ/Rancocas Valley) and Dashante Alexander (Philadelphia, PA/Simon Gratz) round out the starting lineup and are all having a strong second season at Mercer. Kimbrough and El-Amin were both members of the 2012-2013 team that reached the Region 19 championship.  Kimbrough red-shirted last season after suffering a torn ACL in the 2013 Region 19championship.  He is averaging 15.9 points per game, with 4.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists.

In the 2012-2013 season, El-Amin was named a Second Team NJCAA All-American.  This year, he is more than just a scorer, adding rebounding, passing and solid defense, a role that is exactly what the Vikings have needed. Coach Levy says El-Amin has handled the role transition with no complaints.  El-Amin is the team leader in rebounds per game, averaging 7.0, and leads the team in assists, averaging 3.9 to go along with 11.0 points per game. 

Alexander is the fourth Vikings starter to average double digits in scoring, with 11.8 points per game.  Levy notes that Alexander's defense has improved markedly this season and that he is often asked to guard an opposing team's best player, a role he has successfully embraced.

The fifth Vikings sophomore is Petar Milivojevic (Belgrade, Serbia/Crenshaw Christian), who has provided a spark off the bench this season, hitting 37.7% from 3-point range. 

Freshmen are doing their part as well. Hargrove is averaging 7.7 points a game and 5.4 rebounds and Kevin Alexis (Trenton, NJ/Nottingham) has hit some big baskets, averaging 5.5 points per game and shooting 40% from 3-point range.  Kenyatta Long (Philadelphia, PA/Bishop McDevitt) and Dean Blank (Holland, PA/Council Rock South) have also provided some key minutes off the Vikings’ bench.

Right now, the Vikings are focusing their energies on making the magic last right on through the Region 19 semifinal and title games at County College of Morris. The Vikings will face the winner of the quarter-final game between Del Tech Stanton and Lackawanna in the semifinal round this Thursday, Feb. 26 at the County College of Morris. Game time is 6:30 p.m.

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