West Windsor, N.J. - Mercer County Community College (MCCC) men’s basketball team set milestones throughout the 2018-19 season.
For the first time in four years, Mercer basketball ended the year with a winning record. At 19-10, the Vikings notched more wins than any of the last four seasons.
“I think we hit our stride early in the year, which makes a difference,” said Head Coach Howard Levy. The Vikings opened the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) season with a pair of losses to State University of New York (SUNY) Sullivan and Erie Community College, but emerged victorious in 13 of their next 17 games, including a six-game win streak between November and December.
During that stretch – which was the longest win streak since the Vikings tore off 15 straight in 2014-15 – Mercer knocked off Region 19 rival Lackawanna College and withstood a 94-90 overtime thriller against Manor College.
Mercer’s efforts culminated in a 12-2 region record, and a berth in the Region 19 tournament. Though they eventually fell to Lackawanna in the tournament, the Vikings also had reason to celebrate some of their individual contributors.
John Evans earned NJCAA All-Region 19 second team honors. The team’s starting point guard, Evans scored 12.8 points and dished out 3.8 assists per game. Donovon Guess also took home honors: in addition to a spot on the NJCAA All-Region 19 first team, Guess was named the NJCAA Region 19 Player of the Year as well as to the NJCAA All-Division II Second Team.
“Believe it or not, Donny took a step back in scoring for us. But his development as a more complete player speaks to his overall impact.” Levy said. Guess’ scoring dipped to 19 points per game compared to 22 in 2017-18.
Still, the drop in scoring didn’t impact Guess’ ability to earn a place in Mercer history. On Feb. 7 against Essex County College, Guess became one of just a handful of players to score 1,000 points in his Mercer career. “It's an incredible accomplishment for Donovon to have scored 1,000 points for us, especially in the context of how we play, which involves discipline and ball movement,” Levy said earlier this season.
Forward Adnan Bajrami also earned NJCAA Region 19 recognition on the All-Academic Team, which acknowledges players with a 3.2 GPA or higher. Bajrami was also a force on the court, starting in all 29 games while averaging 12 points and seven rebounds each night.
“Even though the season didn’t end the way we hoped, I saw a lot of growth in this team throughout the season,” Levy said. “Our leaders set a great example that we can follow in the 2019-20 season.”
Levy was assisted by Stan Tuchez.