Men's Basketball Team Achieves Memorable
High Points During 2006-07 Season


With a 12-0 record as of the winter break and a no. 5 ranking nationally, expectations were high for the Mercer men's basketball team in the 2006-07 season. With the loss of two key players, the second half of the season was not quite as successful, but the Vikings still managed a respectable 21-10 record.

What the team's accomplishments did not include, however, was a Region 19 championship, a goal that Head Coach Kelly Williams has set for the Vikings every year since he started at Mercer in 1999. While the Vikings defeated Salem CC 97-71 in the first round of the tournament, they lost to Harcum Junior College 75-63 in the semifinal on March 1. "The title has alluded us for another year," Williams said. "That's part of the challenge of coaching and why I love coming back, trying to find the right combination to make that happen."

Graduating players with Head Coach
Kelly Williams
are, from left, Landry
Nguema, Eric Blackmon-Hayes,
Miles Smith and Jores Dongo.

Still, Williams' players gave it everything they could. "This group of sophomores will be hard to replace. I am proud of their efforts on the court and in the classroom," he said. The roster included sophomores 6'8" center Jores Dongo, captain and point guard Eric Blackmon-Hayes, forward Landry Nguema, guard Miles Smith, and forward Awel Ahmed. According to Williams, Blackmon-Hayes was a key figure both on the court and off, just as he was during his freshman year. "Eric was the glue; he provided the focus. He was dependable all 40 minutes on the court and he never complained." Williams said that Blackmon-Hayes brought many intangibles to the team, and helped the team grow both academically and athletically. Jores Dongo also made a powerful contribution to the team and will play at the University of South Carolina's Aiken campus next year.

Explaining his recruiting and coaching philosophy, Williams said, "We look for quality kids who are respectful and who know that they are students first. Basketball is not the final goal. Education is the final goal. In a community college program, I am able to give players personal attention, help them grow, and work with them to become men."

Averaging just over 15 points and 12 rebounds per game, Dongo was named to the All-Region 19 first team. Nguema and Blackmon-Hayes were named to the All-Region second team. All three were named to the GSAC first team.

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