A team for the ages. 33-0 Vikings capture 3C2A crown

A team for the ages. 33-0 Vikings capture 3C2A crown

The talk all week at the 3C2A basketball championships was West Valley's 30-0 record was somehow a negative. Conventional wisdom said the perfect mark was fraught with doubt and foreshadowed the inevitable fall from perfection against the toughest of opponents at the championship stage. After all, only four other teams in the multi-decade history of the 3C2A had produced undefeated championship campaigns.

The Vikings quashed the naysayers and responded the only way a team for the ages could. They became the fifth undefeated champion.

33-0.

West Valley's 59-51 win over the College of the Sequoias Sunday afternoon at Mt. San Antonio College cemented its place among the top 3C2A teams ever. The championship is WVC's first-ever for a program with a storied history.

The title game appearance was the sixth for the Vikings, dating back to 1992. Three previous appearances ('92, '95, 96) were under former coach and CCCMBCA Hall of Famer Bob Burton and current coach Danny Yoshikawa ('06, '22, '24).

"For me, it's long overdue," Yoshikawa said afterward. "Our program has been an elite program for a long time. I think about all the players that came before this team and all of them who played under coach Burton."

The Vikings were led by tournament MVP Elijah Mahi, who scored a game-high 30 points and was the best player on the court when it mattered most.

Mahi's 17 points highlighted a furious first half. WVC had an early 4-0 lead that grew to 15-7 at 13:37 on a Shakir Odunewu layup off a Noah Yang feed. A 10-0 COS run put the Giants (27-6) up 17-15 with 5:25 left before halftime. Back-to-back treys from Jose Cuello gave COS a 27-24 lead at 1:23. Yang found Jeremiah Dargan for a fast break layup after a Baron Bracey steal to close the gap to 27-26 at the half.

Basketball is a game of runs and the second half featured a trio of championship-caliber runs. The Vikings opened the half with an 11-1 outburst. Odunewu's putback and free throw gave WVC a 37-28 advantage at the 13:44 mark.

COS countered with an 11-0 run to take back the lead at 39-37. Odunewu ended the 5:17 Viking scoring drought with a free throw, but a Cuello three kept COS in the lead at 42-38 with 7:12 left.

Dargan's three-pointer and layup sandwiched an Alex Argandar charity shot to tie it up at 43-43 at 5:41. The teams traded buckets until WVC held a 50-49 advantage with just over two minutes to go.

A 9-2 Viking run, highlighted by four big rebounds and three free throws from Odunewu, a key Mahi jumper followed by a pair of free throws, and two clutch Dargan makes from the charity stripe, closed out the game and secured West Valley's place among the 3C2A's all-time elite teams.

Tournament MVP Mahi led all scorers with 30 points on 11-19 (58%) shooting and was 9-9 from the free throw line. He averaged 24 points, six rebounds, shot 55% from the field and was 14-15 from the line for the tournament.

All-Tournament selection Odunewu dominated the middle against COS with 13 points and 14 rebounds. In the tourney, the double-double machine averaged 15 points, 13 rebounds and shot 58%.

Dargan scored nine, along with two rebounds, three steals and an assist against the Giants to earn All-Tournament honors.

In the three tournament games, the Vikings outrebounded opponents 113-93 and shot a crucial 40-49 (82%) from the free throw line.

For complete game recaps and box scores, visit the 3C2A website:

https://3c2asports.org/Basketball/2023-24/2024_MBK_Tourney_Central

 

 

(Photo courtesy Richard Quinton/3C2A)