Coach of the Year Yoshikawa leads Vikings to foundation-building 2019-2020 success

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If one were to focus on just one thing - the 2020 Coast-South championship - from Coach Danny Yoshikawa's triumphant return to Saratoga, that might be reason enough to clebrate the 2019-2020 season. But the accomplishments of the West Valley men's basketball program since Yoshikawa was hired over the summer of 2019 were vast and part of the foundation of a return to glory for Viking hoops.

Yoshikawa was a standout point guard at West Valley in the late 1990's. He was the conference MVP his senior year at UC Davis and later joined legendary Viking coach Bob Burton's staff in Saratoga. After taking over for Burton, he guided WVC to three-straight Coast championships, two state Final Four appearances and, in 2006, the CCCAA state championship game. Most recently, he was the lead assistant at Moraga's Saint Mary's College, a perrenial Top 25 NCAA Division 1 power. When he returned to WVC in 2019, his D1 philosophy, strategizing and technique came with him and immediately produced results.

Yoshikawa's Vikings defeated Cabrillo 51-49 in Aptos on Feb. 21 to sew up the Coast-South title and knock the co-champion Seahawks out of the CCCAA NorCal playoffs. The season-sweep of Cabrillo was added to season-series blankings of De Anza, Hartnell and Gavilan and lifted WVC to its first conference crown since 2006. 

The 2019-2020 Vikings were a relentless defensive-oriented team that could, however, knock down a slurry of long-distance bombs and put points on the board in a hurry. The Vikings passed the 80-point mark seven times and canned a season-high 14 three-pointers twice. But, the defense paved the way to the conference crown at Cabrillo, holding the potent Seahawks without a point in the second half from 13:18 - 8:45 and, when it mattered most, from 2:07 - :13.

In December 2019, Yoshikawa's squad ran through the field at the Monterey Peninsula College Holiday Classic, capturing the championship with a 70-67 win over then-unbeaten Irvine Valley. First-year guard Ben Baker was named the tourney MVP, a preview of grander things to come.

Baker was, at times, an unstoppable force driving to the basket and turning offensive rebounds into buckets. He averaged a team-high 19.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game and was named the 2020 Coast-South Most Valuable Player. Baker was joined on the All-Coast First Team by post player Adam Afifi, also a freshman. Sophomore Devon Banks, recognized as the top defensive guard in the Coast, earned All-Coast-South Second Team honors, while the Coast's top sixth man, freshman Sufyan Elkannan was named Honorable Mention.

With all these accomplishments for the Viking program, it was no surprise Yoshikawa was named the Coast-South Coach of the Year, the fourth Coast Coach of ther Year award of his career. He earned the California State Coach of the Year in 2006 and has now coached more than 15 All-Coast players.

Boasting one of the youngest squads in the state and returning the conference MVP and two other all-conference players, the future is bright for West Valley under Danny Yoshikawa.