Win clinches a playoff spot for men’s basketball on sophomore night


Andrew Barber

DVC’s Devon Pouncey gets a steal from Modesto College’s Eric Melgar late in the second half. The Vikings won 75-66 to advance to the playoffs. Pleasant Hill, Calif.

Benjamin Davidson, Managing editor

DVC earned the privilege to participate in the California Community College Athletic Association postseason after a win against Modesto Junior College on Feb. 21, commencing their pursuit to the final four.

After a back and forth game that was nothing short of physical, the Vikings (7-6) bested the Pirates (6-7) with a score of 75-66 in front of a roaring, crowd on sophomore-night at their home court in Pleasant Hill. Leaving everything on the court was something DVC planned on doing specifically for the last game of the regular season, and they did just that.

Despite some key injuries in Connor Jean and A.B. Najee, the men’s basketball team was able to overcome it and grab a spot in the playoffs with the win.

Baseketball head coach Steve Coccimiglio, who has a total coaching record of 545 – 215 in his history with DVC since 1991, saw the hard work his team put forth to win the game.

“We’ve been so up and down in these seven weeks in conference, not just because of injuries, but we lost some close games,” he said. “But the heart of these guys, and the heart of our team hung in there.”

Prior to tip-off, the sophomores of the team were recognized for their play, and their last year of eligibility, with some of the players’ parents coming down on the court for a pre-game embrace. Guest appearances by Troupe 405’s Cub Scouts, as well as the DVC ballet performers added to the elevated atmosphere surrounding the game – which was already electric in nature. From the Modesto cheerleaders to the full bleachers, it was a very anticipated game, to say the least.

The Vikings started the first half with some solid boards play, with rebounds being grabbed by #31 Kunle Fashola and #15 Jermaine Edmonds who were doing a good job of boxing out Modesto’s center and forwards.

“I just told myself that I had to go all out on defense,” Fashola said. “Today’s game was all about defense, not about offense. You’ve got to box them out and make sure they don’t crash the boards.”

Outside shooting also lit-up as well after a fast break – one by #11 A.B. Najee, who made the free throw, and had some great passes as well. #20 Justin Yeargin put work in and around the key sinking two-point shots, as well as getting some shots off from the outside, draining a lot of those as well –  causing Modesto’s defense to focus in on both him, and A.B. as well.

“It’s all repetition,” Yeargin said. “Coach has us shoot all day, every day in practice; it gets boring, but it helps in the game.”

The pressure on Yeargin opened up more outside shooting opportunities, for #21 Joe McNiff and others. McNiff was robbed of two of his made three-point shots; the first when his foot stepped out of bounds by an inch, and the second was when coach Coccimiglio called a timeout as the shot went off. Good defense by McNiff, Fashola, and the rest of the rotating Vikings made up for the lost shots.

For Najee’s first game back coming off of a torn left hamstring, he performed very well all things considered.

“I did rehab, we have a great training staff here at DVC, they helped me out everyday,” Najee said. “When I’m healthy I feel like I can score on anybody at this level – at the next level I just hope it will be the same. I love my teammates, I set them up, they set me up and we get it done.”

A couple tough conferences will prove to be formidable opponents to the Vikings in their route to the final four, in that of Fresno, and San Francisco.