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Rivalry's all relative

Lecanto brothers Victor and Nick Cortes compete with, build each other up.

By DAWN REISS
Published January 31, 2007


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LECANTO - Junior point guard Victor Cortes shoots a glance across the court. He cuts up the middle on a fast break to the basket before feeding his brother Nick on the opposite side under the hoop.

It's Lecanto's annual senior vs. underclassmen game. Both want to show up their older teammates. A few minutes later they are on the opposite side of the court. Nick is clapping, motioning for the ball.

"I know what I'm doing," Victor tells his brother, taking the shot himself. "I do what I do.

"I saw him open. I just wait for the right time to throw it to him."

It's something the pair has done all season: trash talking and tearing up the floor.

Though Victor is the starter, both give Lecanto (19-3) different looks at point guard. Victor is the passer. Nick, a sophomore, is the scorer. Though they share their role, they average a combined 19 points. Victor defends. Nick rebounds his own shots.

"Nicky can defy odds with all his shifty stuff," Lecanto coach Chris Nichols said. "He just has a way of finding the basketball. He can drive through the trees and put it in the basket. He's a finesse player. Victor goes right at the chest, there's no finesse there. He is high energy and knows how to push the ball around.

"They are two of the most competitive kids I've ever been around. And I've coached a couple of brothers before. Usually one is competitive and one is laid back. Not these two. When they go up against each other they fight tooth and nail."

Nichols, in his 18th season at Lecanto, jokes that during the spring at least once a week they would get into it with each other.

But both admit they wouldn't be as good without the other.

"We talk after every game," said the 5-foot-10 Victor. "We aren't afraid to tell each other we had a horrible game. It helps us improve."

"I play better with him on the court," said the 5-foot-7 Nick.

Both came up big Friday in Lecanto's 67-66 victory over North Marion.

Down by five, Victor went up for a 3-point shot and got fouled. He made 2 of 3 free throws. Then his teammate, Collin Pugh made two technical free throws. With 7.2 seconds left, Lecanto had the ball out of bounds. The plan was to give Victor or forward Bryan Hamer the ball. Instead, North Marion cued on Nick and Hamer.

"It was like the parting of the Red Sea," Nichols said. "Victor went for up the middle for the layup.

"We had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, but he gave us the game."

[Last modified January 30, 2007, 22:52:23]


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