By Deshawn Morris
It was a terrific end to the DCCC Phantoms men’s basketball sophomore night as the team pulled a 96-90 win against Delaware Technical Community College on Feb. 13 during a home game at Cheyney University.
The Phantoms were firing on all cylinders and three players had double digit numbers.
Leading the way was sophomore guard Mike Mallon, an education major who had 28 points, seven rebounds and was 6-11 from three-point range.
Following right behind was first year guard Yohnace Garner with 27 points, nine rebounds and three steals.
Forward Shawn Mendez, a nursing major who is second in the nation in rebounds per game, had 26 points and added nine rebounds and two blocks to his performance.
“Our guys are learning to play through adversity,” head coach Larry Yarbray Sr. said. “There are gonna be days where you don’t get any calls and miss foul shots, layups, and have offensive struggles, but you play good defense and give yourself an opportunity to win. So, we fought through it, refocused and did what we had to do.”
Mallon and teammate Steve Willis celebrated their sophomore night with a win that put them 13-10 to end the regular season going into the playoffs.
“That was a good team win,” said Willis, a liberal arts major.
“We started off slow but fought back in the second half to pull off the big win tonight. In the first half I felt like we came out sluggish, not playing good defense and not running our plays but we came out in the second half and dug deep on defense which turned into quick layups and built offense.”
The first half started off with both teams competing well defensively. Fluctuating between fouls and turnovers, both teams made it tough for each other to score. Delaware Tech. began to find their rhythm and went on a 12-3 run against the Phantoms, leading to a score of 28-18.
With 7:21 left on the clock in the first half, in an effort to spark a comeback, Garner got to the foul line for the Phantoms and sank both free throws.
Defensive breakdowns, three pointers from Delaware Tech. guards Corey Doran and Yshaad
Butcher and turnovers offensively made it hard for the Phantoms to get back in the game. The first half ended with Delaware Tech. leading 45-39.
Going into the second half, the Phantoms came back out with more energy and spirit. Three
minutes into the half, the Phantoms went on a 7-0 run against Delaware Tech. The ball
was stolen by Mallon and led to a fastbreak layup which tied the game up 49-49.
More intact defensively and offensively, DCCC showed that the game was far from over. Delaware Tech. tried to pull away, but the Phantoms were still locked in.
Phantoms point guard Joshua Grant, a liberal arts major, distributed the ball to open teammates Mallon and Garner who made consecutive 3-pointers to keep the game close.
Grant led all players with 10 assists and added seven points and rebounds for the team.
With 12 minutes left, the game became even more intense with both teams showing they wanted to win. Big rebounds from Mendez and clutch three pointers from Mallon pulled the Phantoms ahead of Delaware Tech.
A missed layup by Grant turned into an offensive rebound for Mendez and an and-1 by him, which put the Phantoms up 88-83 with two minutes left in the game.
“We came out sluggish in the first half, so coach told us we had to lock in, focus and go stronger,” said Mendez.
Delaware Tech. tried to spark a comeback of their own, but DCCC’s defensive effort was too great for them to handle. The game ended with the Phantoms taking the win 96-90 over Delaware Tech.
The Phantoms ended the season with a record of 13-10 and are headed to the playoffs, the first time since the 2016-2017 season.
“We had to calm down and run our sets,” Mallon said. “Once we got back into the flow of things, we pressed the ball and switched the tide of the game.”
“The game plan going into playoffs is play hard, play our style and play together,” Yarbray added.
The 11th seed DCCC Phantoms played the sixth seed Middlesex Blue Colts Feb. 22, at Middlesex Community College in the first round of the NJCAA Region XIX tournament. Middlesex advanced to the next round following their 79-63 win.
Contact Deshawn Morris at email@example.com