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Pirates begin new era in NJCAA on Friday

VC's playmaking guard Jacob Brown is confident the Pirates can make some noise in their first season as a member of the NJCAA.
VC's playmaking guard Jacob Brown is confident the Pirates can make some noise in their first season as a member of the NJCAA.

The Victoria College Pirates' game plan is pretty simple heading into their first season in the National Junior College Athletic Association.

With only one player taller that 6-foot-2, the Pirates know they will have to rely on quickness and effort to compete against some of the top JUCO teams in the country in Region XIV.

"We stand about 6 feet across the board, so for us it's going to be all about tempo," said head coach Jesse Ortega, whose Pirates open the season Friday against Weatherford College in Ranger. "We have to make sure we play a fast-paced game and keep things spaced out to draw their bigs away from the basket. We just have to do what we do best."

VC displayed their ability in the transition game on Nov. 6 during a 122-83 exhibition win over NAIA North American University. Freshman guard Jacob Brown (San Marcos) scored a game-high 26 points and made four shots from beyond the 3-point arc. Sophomore guard/forward Brandon Keno (San Antonio East Central) added 21 points and seven rebounds.

"There were things we were happy about and some things we weren't happy about," Brown said of the game. "We were happy with the win, but we have a lot of things to work on and move on to the next game."

"We just have to use our speed and get out and run in transition," said Keno, "We have to do a great job of playing help defense, too. That's a big key for our team."

The Pirates' tallest player is 6-5 freshman guard/forward Devin Neil (Corpus Christi Moody), who had 13 rebounds in the exhibition victory. Neil will be counted on to provide an inside presence defensively.

"We will just have to play hard on defense," Ortega said. "Effort will be our key along with discipline and the small things."

The Pirates will be tested early. After its opener against Weatherford College on Friday, Victoria College will face Ranger College, which is ranked No. 2 in the NJCAA Division I national poll.

"I think we can surprise a lot of people," Brown said. "We don't look like much going into the season, but we have a lot of talent and a lot of people who want to win. We just have to keep on building team chemistry."