Pi­rates “dan­ger­ous” with op­tions

PC tonight at Vic­tor Val­ley, 5 p.m.

Porterville Recorder - - SPORTS - By NAYIRAH DOSU ndosu@porter­villere­corder.com

Col­lege bas­ket­ball all around the na­tion tipped off ear­lier this week, and get­ting to ac­tion tonight is the Porter­ville Col­lege men’s bas­ket­ball team.

Af­ter a rough, dis­ap­point­ing end to the 2017-18 sea­son where the Pi­rates went 2-12 in the Cen­tral Val­ley Con­fer­ence and 7-18 on the over­all sea­son, PC has left the past in the past, and are fo­cused on mak­ing this go-around one of their best sea­sons in years.

Porter­ville opens the sea­son on the road with a 5 p.m. game in Vic­torville at Vic­tor Val­ley Col­lege. They’ll re­turn home on Tues­day, Nov. 13 for a 6 p.m. game against De

Anza. All fans wear­ing red get free ad­mis­sion for games.

“I think we got good po­ten­tial to be a dan­ger­ous team,” PC head coach Rob Haynes said. “We have a good mix­ture of tal­ent. We can play small, we can play big. We can play fast, we can play slow. Very kind of sim­i­lar ways from last year’s team, the team that started off last year be­fore we lost all those guys. Very sim­i­lar in that area. That we can mix it up a lit­tle bit.”

The Pi­rates have five sopho­mores listed this sea­son but only one true re­turner in sopho­more Eli­jah Car­de­nas, a 5-foot-11 guard. Last sea­son, Car­de­nas av­er­aged 10.5 points a game and shot 88.5 per­cent from the free throw line. He also scored a team-high 20 points in PC’S 76-75 win over the state’s fourth-ranked Merced.

“Eli is the one we’re go­ing to have to rely heav­ily on,” Haynes said. “When things get a lit­tle bit crazy and all the stuff like that, he’s go­ing to have to be not just the vo­cal leader, but he’s also go­ing to have to (lead) by ex­am­ple. I see with him he brings a sense of calm­ness be­cause he’s been through it. He’s been through the worst of the worst and the goods of the goods.”

The four other sopho­mores back for PC are: 6-foot-5 for­ward Da’morea Green, 6-foot-4 for­ward Alonso Valle, 6-foot-2 guard Dar­ion “DJ” Wil­son and 6-foot-2 point guard Ger­maine Cald­well Jr. Green was a starter dur­ing the 2016-17 sea­son be­fore suf­fer­ing a sea­son-end­ing in­jury.

An­other re­turner for the Pi­rates is for­mer Porter­ville High star Trea­ger Wal­lace. One of the best, most re­li­able shoot­ers dur­ing his se­nior year of high school, the 6-foot-4 fresh­man guard greyshirted last sea­son af­ter be­ing in­jured.

“Trea­ger, Damorea and DJ -- those guys I think will bring ex­pe­ri­ence” Haynes said. “They’re go­ing to have to catch back up to the speed be­cause they’ve been out for a year. But I think they’ll bring ex­pe­ri­ence, I think they’ll bring con­fi­dence. They’ll bring some knowl­edge to the game for the in­com­ing guys.”

Haynes said this sea­son will be dif­fer­ent than oth­ers with a some­what small-sized team where only 6-foot-10 cen­ter Mario Daw­son is above 6-foot5. With­out as many lon­grange shoot­ers as last year, the Pi­rates’ fo­cus comes down to what they can do in­side, both on of­fense and de­fense.

“They play big­ger,” Haynes said about his de­fen­sive play­ers. “They have their strengths in other ar­eas. What they lack in height, they’re go­ing to be able to take bigs out and take them off the drib­ble... In­side we’re go­ing to sur­prise teams.”

On Daw­son, Haynes said, “He’s an in­te­rior de­fen­sive an­chor. He’s go­ing to al­ter­nate shots and block shots. He’s go­ing to re­bound and catch it at times, fin­ish high around the rim.” He added that Green pro­vides a scor­ing pres­ence, as does Valles and 6-foot-4 fresh­man An­dres So­lis.

Car­de­nas and Wal­lace should be the team’s top shoot­ers, but don’t ex­pect the Pi­rates to just feed the ball to those two. They’ll be work­ing to get the ball in­side more.

“We’re more of a grit­tier team,” Haynes said. “We’re ath­letic. We have mul­ti­ple guards that can han­dle the ball. We got guys in­side that can score. So again, we’ve got a good mix­ture.”

Mov­ing away from mul­ti­ple tour­na­ments in the pre­sea­son, PC is play­ing in just two tour­na­ments, in­clud­ing their own that is named af­ter Mayor Milt Stowe, who con­tin­ues to bat­tle cancer. It’ll be the first tour­na­ment at the Pi­rates’ gym since around the early 2000’s.

“It’s all for a good cause,” Haynes said. “We named it af­ter our mayor, Milt Stowe. The strength and the in­tegrity that man has. And the fight that he has. Ev­ery time I talk to him I give him the ut­most re­spect. So thank­ful for what he’s do­ing, what he’s done for the town and what he’s done for me, and just the fight that he’s con­tin­ued to put up. His men­tal for­ti­tude is above and be­yond. So it’s only right that I felt that we can honor him by mak­ing this tour­na­ment in his honor.”

Porter­ville be­gins con­fer­ence play, Jan. 3, 2019, in a 6 p.m. game at Reed­ley Col­lege.

RECORDER PHOTO BY CHIEKO HARA

Porter­ville Col­lege’s mens bas­ket­ball team prac­tices Wed­nes­day, Oct. 24, 2018. The Pi­rates home opener will be Fri­day, Nov. 9, at 5 p.m.

RECORDER PHOTO BY CHIEKO HARA

Porter­ville Col­lege’s re­turner Eli­jah Car­de­nas makes a three-point shoot Wed­nes­day, Oct. 24, 2018 dur­ing a prac­tice ses­sion. The Pi­rates home opener will be Fri­day, Nov. 9, at 5 p.m.

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