To quote a phrase, the Columbia College basketball team has hopped out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Five days after slipping past American River College 79-78 in their first-round game of the Northern California playoffs, the No. 19-seed Claim Jumpers (20-12) will be staring at a mountain of a challenge tonight when they tip off at 7 p.m. against the No. 3-seed Diablo Valley Vikings in Pleasant Hill.

The Vikings (32-2), who easily dispatched No. 30-seed Porterville 64-45 in their first-round game, finished second in the Bay Valley-West to Santa Rosa the only team to beat Diablo Valley this season.

Even figuring in their two losses to Santa Rosa, the Vikings' average margin of victory was still an astounding 18 points during the regular season.

"We used to play them my first couple of years here, and they're still doing the same types of things," said Columbia coach Andy Vasher, who scouted the Vikings' first-round playoff game last Saturday. "They're athletic, quick, have good size, but they might not be real deep; they might have only played seven against Porterville."

Although the Vikings boast four players who average double-figure scoring, the Claim Jumpers' biggest challenge will be stopping first-team all-BVW freshman forward Mo Charlo.

"He's the second-best player in their league," Vasher said of Charlo, who averages 15.7 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game, 1.9 blocks per game and 1.8 steals per game.

"Their is nobody in our league who is as athletic as he is, and our league is not unathletic."

Because Charlo is at his most effective when slashing to the basket, Vasher said any number of Jumpers, including Talin Zimmer, Kevin Massey and Aaron Gentry, will be assigned to defend him throughout the game.

As explosive as Charlo is, the Vikings' leading scorer is fellow all-BVW first-teamer Franco Harris, who led the BVW at 18.2 ppg on the strength of his 37 percent shooting from the 3-point line.

The Union Democrat
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