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Mercer wins the Region XIX tournament.

The two HLs are both winners.

That was the message Mercer coach Howie Levy received from former Vikings head man Howie Landa on the way back to central New Jersey from Scranton this evening.

The veteran Landa, who coached the Mercer County Community College men's basketball team for over 20 years, winning two national titles, called to congratulate Levy after the Vikings defeated Lackawanna 79-69 to win the Region XIX Tournament.

Mercer advances to the 16 team round robin NJCAA Division II Championship Tournament starting March 16th in Danville, Illinois.

Sophomore sharpshooter Uros Kovacevic scored 24 points and was named tournament MVP. Paco Boussougou added 14 for the Vikings, who claimed the Region XIX title for the first time since 1998.

"The last three games have been pretty similar. Three tough teams," an elated Levy said over the phone while his team watched Bad Boys II on the bus home. "Our defense was terrific. We've just been playing great."

"They became a team about a week ago," Levy added. "We've been working hard all year but it has been sort of up and down. After Harcum beat us and we had a couple bad practices it sort of all came together."

The Vikings and the Falcons split their regular season series, with Lackawanna winning at home by 16 and Mercer picking up a three point decision in West Windsor for their first victory over the Falcons in nine years.

The rubber game went to Mercer, who has won 10 of their last 11. The Vikings head to Danville with a 20-12 record. "We got down early by eight points and the played a little too fast," Levy said of how the championship game unfolded. "We ended up taking four point lead at halftime."

"Early in the second half we got a lead and managed to extend it to 10-12 points and kept it there."

"They were so happy. It was really nice," Levy added when asked to describe the scene after the final buzzer. "They were jumping around, truly happy."

"It is quite an accomplishment for these guys. They came a long way."

After the game Levy was honored as Region XIX DII Coach of the Year.

Gregg Lange said,

March 2, 2010 @ 11:43 pm

I wish I could say enough about Howie Levy, a true coach's coach and great Princetonian. It's very important for all of us to pay appropriate respect to him, and others like Bryce Chase '63 in lacrosse, who have been bulwarks of major programs for many, many years without adequate publicity or thanks. I hope a hug and a "not too bad" from Pete will make him feel good all over; he deserves that and even more.

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