Men's Basketball Team Earns
Winning Record In Tough


The Mercer men's basketball team was on a seesaw this season - a win followed by a loss, another win followed by another loss. In the end the team posted a winning record with 16 wins and 13 losses. "We had the characteristics of a young team," said Head Coach Kelly Williams, who completed his ninth season with the Vikings. "We were uneven, playing really well one week, and not so well the next." Forward Irvin Johnson was the team's lone returning starter.

The Vikings came on strong in the last two games of the regular season with two back-to-back wins against the County College of Morris, which earned them the no. 2 seed in the Region 19 tournament. But the team was unable to sustain its momentum, losing to Essex Community College 95-80 in the semi-final round on Feb. 29. Mercer had beaten Essex in both regular season match-ups, so the loss was especially disappointing.

Coach Williams notes that the team worked hard, but had trouble closing out close games, something that "comes with experience," he observed. Still, he credits his players with remaining focused and motivated. "The team stayed strong in its will to compete."

Williams emphasized academics as well as athletics. "Our number one goal every year is to insure that all players remain eligible for both semesters by instilling the concept of the student-athlete and we accomplished that. I am very proud of the players' achievements in the classroom," Williams said.

Mercer shooting guard Pedro Burgos
Forward Josh Caver

Johnson, who served as team captain during both his years at Mercer, was a true team leader, according to Williams. He proved a significant force on the court, scoring an average of 12 points per game. The Vikings were also bolstered by the arrival of shooting guard Pedro Burgos, a transfer student from Ocean County College, who averaged 16 points per game. "Pedro made the difference in many victories. He had a great work ethic and was willing to do anything for the team," Williams said. Other key contributors were freshmen Joshua Caver, Mark Dickerson, Josh Merrington, Stephen Perry, Eric Preston, Antoine Rogers and Derek Williams, as well as sophomore Alat-Eldin Ahmed.

Burgos was selected to the All-Region 19 first team and Johnson was chosen for the second team. Both players were selected to the All-Garden State Athletic Conference first team.

While the Vikings' goal of a Region 19 title went unmet for another season, Williams enjoyed a sweet moment on Jan. 27 with his 150th win when the Vikings beat Dean College (MA) 103-77 on the road. With the expected return of four or five players from this season's line-up, he is already looking forward to the possibilities for next year. "They understand our system and our expectations, which should really increase our chances for a regional championship," Williams said.

Williams was assisted this season by Gary Williams, Chris Poznick, Scott Nance and Greg Grant.

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