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Ceres High hoops teams were special

Ceres High hoops teams were special

Seven members of Ceres High’s 1998-99 varsity girls basketball team pose for a picture with former head coach Shawna Nunes (pictured far right) at the 2018 Ceres High School Hall of Fame ceremony.

POSTED March 7, 2018 9:27 a.m.
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The members of Ceres High's 1998-99 and 2004-05 varsity girls basketball programs engaged in friendly trash talk during the Bulldog Hall of Fame ceremony on Feb. 17 at the River Oaks Golf Course Event Center.

Both teams were inducted into the school's HOF, along with the 1993-94 Ceres High varsity boys basketball squad.

"They want an alumni game," said Shawna Nunes, who along with Phil de la Porte, coached both of the girls teams. "The old ones were instigating it."

"I'd fly back to California for that," said Reshundra Smiley, sophomore point guard for the 1998-99 team.

Smiley, Shannon Donnelly, Amy Cucinella, Natalia Kortsova, Delise Young, Denise Wake, Erica Gomez, Liz Carranza, Cortney Welch, Amber Maldonado and Jamie Bertolotti played for Ceres High's 1998-99 girls hoops team, which compiled a 30-3 overall record, finished second in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I playoff tournament and claimed the Central California Conference title (18-0).

"The 1998-99 team was the gold standard," Nunes said. "We compared everybody to them."

"We grew up watching and reading about that team in the Courier," said Heather Mazza, point guard on Ceres High's 2004-05 girls squad. "They took the time during summer camp to coach us. They definitely inspired us. They were so good. We wanted to be like them."

"We never expected to lose, not in a conceited way," said Donnelly, a senior post player. "We would not have been the same team without the coaches we had. They pushed us."

"Everybody played their role and executed to the fullest," Smiley said. "That's what made our team great."

Heather Mazza, Jessica Mazza, Krystle Brown, Meghan Franksen, Kelsey Sayad, Jennifer Arnold, Kristen McClure, Heather Jones, Emily Coutrakis, Jessica Hunter, Jordan Nash, Crystal Perez and Donna Zaragoza suited up for Ceres High's 2004-05 girls team, which captured the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II championship.

"That was our goal since freshman year," Heather Mazza said. "To be able to accomplish that was really cool. A huge part of the success of the team has to go to the coaches. They gave everybody a role and expressed the value for each role. They treated us all the same, but motivated us in completely different ways."

"I remember working at the camps and seeing them," Donnelly said. "It was fun to watch them grow. I knew they were going to be good."

"You'll never have a favorite child," Nunes said when asked which team was better. "It's incredible when you look back at it. We had great athletes. They were excessively competitive. They worked so hard. All of the kids were willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the team. They just wanted to win."

Ceres High's 1993-94 boys basketball team featured Nate Thornberry, Oscar Ruiz, Sean Kitzmiller, Tino Scoto, Paul Veuve, Art Gariety, Mike Gariety, Alex Holloway, Mike Bradley, Mel Claxton, Jeff Burrow, Josh Baker, Fred Orange, Eric Brush and Jody Middleton. The Bulldogs went 27-4, advanced to the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II playoffs and placed first in the Valley Oak League under Glenn Driskell's guidance. Phil de la Porte was his assistant coach.


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