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Elmwood Park, 01/09/13 Elmwood Park's Victor Morales takes the jump shot in the lane during their game against Guerin Prep in Elmwood Park January 9, 2013. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Elmwood Park’s Victor Morales has been told on more than one occasion that he wasn’t big enough to play basketball.
The 5-foot-6 junior has exhibited on more than one occasion, however, that although he may be short he doesn’t play small.
Morales said he didn’t even have much of an interest in basketball until around age 14, and despite his size limitations has made great strides over a short span with the Tigers varsity squad.
In a game last week against Riverside-Brookfield, for example, Morales showed his moxie on several drives to the hoop when he was met inside by players a foot taller or more. Undaunted, he frequently found ways to score, haul down a rebound, or dish off to a teammate for an assist. He showed time and again he can survive — and be productive — in the land of the giants.
“I’m a driver, I like taking the ball to the basket,” Morales said after scoring six points and collecting four rebounds. “I’ve always played with bigger kids so I’ve learned to be aggressive and attack and get the ball to an open man or finish underneath. “Many people have said I was too small to play basketball and wouldn’t be able to score at this level, but I just keep trying to get better to prove I belong and help my team achieve success.”
Elmwood Park head coach Mike Wasielewski said although Morales is the smallest player on the Tigers’ roster (along with junior Marty Torres), he understands what is expected of him offensively, and executes it on the court.
“He’s our point guard and he is very good as a ball handler and on the fast break,” Wasielewski said. “He’s an important part of what we are trying to do and I’m excited to see what he and the team can do the rest of this year — and he will be back next season. I want to see what we can accomplish the second time through conference (1-5 Metro Suburban) because every game we keep getting better and so does Victor.
“We had a lot of close games the first time around and I’m excited to see what these guys can do with some more experience under their belts.”
Senior teammate Pat McNulty said, from what he has witnessed, size is not a disadvantage for Morales.
“He’s small, but he’s not scared of anyone no matter how big or fast they are,” McNulty said. “He’s a good guy to have on the team because he brings a lot of energy and intensity and gets everyone else on the team playing faster.
“He really works hard at practice, and he practices at such a high level of competition that it makes it fun for us,” he said. “That’s just the way he is. He’s one tough player who lets it all out on the court.”
Morales said he will continue to hone his skills.
“I try to go into every game with confidence and do what I can to score, help my teammates score or whatever else I can to help my team,” he said. “I will continue to work hard in practice and prove myself to those who say I can’t play in a big man’s game.”