Feb 09, 2016
Diablo Valley College point guard Leon Williams V had every reason to smile Tuesday night after the Vikings' 71-68 upset of Sierra in the Big 8 Conference.
This one was sweet on so many levels.
"We're just playing basketball as a team right now," Williams said. "We're finding ways to win, and we need to keep doing it."
A comeback story, Williams has endured three knee surgeries since the fourth game of his senior year at Vanden High. He has spurred the Vikings (13-12, 5-6), who are riding a three-game winning streak, to a 3-2 record since his return on Jan. 26 from a partial meniscus tear.
The Vikings will probably need to win their final three games to make the playoffs, beginning Thursday night at tough Sacramento City (15-10, 7-4).
The Vikings were 3-7 during Williams' absence, but against Sierra they looked like a complete product.
The spacing and the pacing looked right.
"When he's on the floor, we can get into the offense a lot better," coach Steve Coccimiglio said of Williams. "He leads. You've got have a leader on the floor. From the time he got hurt, we didn't have a floor leader."
But the job isn't done.
Williams, who is still rounding back into game shape, has been through a lot.
After having ACL surgery to repair a torn meniscus in high school, he suffered the same injury on the other leg during the summer as he was preparing to play at Solano. He had surgery again, greyshirted, and then transferred to DVC.
"I've been through three major leg injuries," he says.
Did he ever think about quitting?
"The second one was tough for me," he said. "The first one was no problem, I wanted to get back quick. The second one was just detrimental. I really didn't know if I wanted to play until I actually stepped onto the court, and then I felt the love for it."
Coccimiglio loves having Williams in the mix. He describes him as a good player and a "nice kid," and marvels at his ability to keep coming back.
"I didn't expect him to come back, but he's worked so hard these past three or four games," Coccimiglio said.
In Williams' first game back, things didn't go quite like he hoped. He didn't feel like the missing piece.
"At first I wasn't quite sure," he recalled. "I thought I wasn't really gonna help, but once I got the second game going and I saw the movement, the ball movement, and everybody's just looking for everybody, it just felt right at home, like I was the missing piece."
Like so many players through the years, Williams came to DVC to be part of something special.
"I just found out this is a great program with great coaches, and I want to win," Williams said. "And everybody else on the team wants to win too."
Notes: Jacques Carraway (14 points, five rebounds), a 6-foot-7 forward, gave an inspired effort against Sierra. Reggie Arthur-Mixon also made a huge 3-pointer with 2:04 remaining to up the lead to 66-60. The team overcame an injury to 6-7 starter Damien Banford (high ankle sprain), who rolled his ankle about 4 minutes into the game. Spencer Clark, a sophomore captain, led the team with 16 points. … Coccimiglio is four wins shy of the 600-win plateau, and the Vikings will need to make the playoffs to have any chance of getting there, with three games left in the regular season.