Men's Basketball Looks to Make Noise in Regional Tournament
(Delaware and Chester Counties, PA • February 21, 2020)—The Delaware County Community College Men’s Basketball Team will return to postseason action for the first time in three years when the 11th-seeded Phantoms take on sixth-seeded Middlesex County College on Saturday.
Not satisfied with just an invitation to the regional tournament, the Phantoms, fueled by the momentum of winning five of their last six, charge into the playoffs ready to make some noise. Newly-minted Eastern Pennsylvania Athletic Conference (EPAC) all-league selections Shawn Mendez (first team) and Mike Mallon (second team) provide an effective inside-out scoring threat.
Mendez proved to be an indispensable presence in the middle throughout the regular season for the Phantoms as he led the team in overall shooting percentage (51.1), rebounds per game (15.4), and blocks per game (1.6). Surpassing 400 points in his first year of collegiate action, Mendez averaged 17.4 points, which included a season-high outburst of 28 points in a 97-72 victory over Harcum College’s junior varsity squad in late January. Mendez was a model of consistency as he authored seven 20-plus rebounding efforts and 12 multi-block performances on his way to ranking among the national Division-III leaders in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) in rebounds per game (second), offensive rebounds (third, 164), total rebounds (third, 354), and total blocks (25th, 37).
Mallon made his final season in a Phantoms uniform a memorable one as he topped the EPAC with a scoring average of 19.5 points per game. Starting all 23 regular-season games, Mallon eclipsed the 20-point mark in 12 of the contests including a season-high 31 points in an early-season 97-92 victory over Luzerne Community College where he shot a scintillating 6-for-10 from behind the arc. The Penncrest High School graduate, who connected at a team-high 38.2 percent from distance, went on to match that six three-pointer achievement in a 96-90 win over Delaware Technical Community College in the final home game of his career. Mallon’s 73 total three-pointers on the season ranked him among the national leaders (tied for 18th). Not just a scorer, Mallon filled the stat sheet on a consistent basis as he tied for second on the squad in steals (2.3 per game) and assists (1.7 per game), and chipped in with 4.6 rebounds per contest. Mallon’s 449 total points on the season surpassed the 316 points he scored as a first-year player when he averaged 13.2 points per game and registered career-highs of eight three-pointers and 32 points in a victory over Lehigh Carbon Community College in February of 2019.
The Phantoms, 13-10 overall on the season, are far from a two-man show however as Josh Grant (14.0 points per game), Yohance Garner (12.4 points per game) and Steve Willis (9.3 points per game) also provide consistent firepower. Grant’s ability to penetrate effectively allows him to be much more than just a scorer as he ranks 11th nationally with 156 assists on the year.
Awaiting the Phantoms in their opening round matchup are the Blue Colts, who enter the regional tournament having won three of their last four. Middlesex, a member of the Garden State Athletic Conference, went 19-11 overall during the regular season including a 17-5 mark in conference play.
Six-foot-five freshman guard Ibn Lynn leads the way on both ends of the court with averages of 18.6 points 8.5 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game. Joshua Daniels and Luke Patel chip in with 14.6 and 10.2 points, respectively. A standout shooter, Daniels ranks seven nationally in free-throw percentage (87.4) while also excelling from long range with a 44.4 percentage from behind the arc. Topping the squad in minutes played, Patel has started each of the Blue Colts’ 30 games on the season. The veteran guard has tallied 129 assists during the campaign which is good for 25th nationally. Patel’s backcourt mate Jared Meyer is also a notable contributor with an average of 9.7 points per game and 73 total steals (14th nationally). Jalen Jackson (9.6 points per game) and Marquise Billingsley (9.4 points per game) provide valuable depth on offense.
The Phantoms and Blue Colts last met on the hardwood on Nov. 19, 2015 with host Middlesex escaping with the narrow 100-97 victory. Khayyir Laws earned game-high scoring honors with 30 points and Amonie Holloman hit five three-pointers on his way to 21 points.
Delaware County Community College’s journey in the regional tournament begins at host Middlesex on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.