By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Ceres High's varsity boys basketball team fell one win shy of a .500 overall record (13-14) and finished in a tie for fourth place with Oakdale in the Valley Oak League standings (7-9) in 2009-10.

Central Valley struggled with consistency while posting a 4-23 record and taking sixth in league (2-14).

The Bulldogs and Hawks hope to experience major turnarounds this year.

"We definitely want to get to the playoffs," said Brian de la Porte, third-year head coach of Ceres High. "Obviously, it would mean a lot."

The Bulldogs lost three key players to graduation, including Justin Canatsy, Lance Hunter and Katero Lebeau.

Canatsy averaged a team-leading 12.6 points per game.

Lebeau was a major contributor during his lone season with Ceres High.

Tyler Cummings, a projected starting forward, decided not to play this year to focus on baseball.

"Every team is different," de la Porte said. "We have some pretty talented kids. I'm curious to see how we do."

The Bulldogs return eight players from last year's team: John Dhillon (G, Sr.), Edgar Lopez (G, Sr.), Hadon Lopez (G, Sr.), George Borden (C/F, Sr.), Chris Hilgen (C/F, Sr.), Beau Pimentel (C/F, Sr.), Kendall Vertner (G, Sr.) and Mehtab Sekhon (F, Sr.).

Pimentel has yet to recover from a knee injury sustained last season.

Ceres High's top newcomers are Binder Atwal (G/F, Jr.) and Tre Haynes (C/F, Sr.).

Jimbo Pernetti (G, So.), Josh Sasamoto (G, Sr.), Jose Nava (F, Sr.) and Jeremy Cagle (F, Sr.) are also on the team.

Dhillon was a major contributor a season ago.

He averaged 17.5 points per game against second-place Weston Ranch.

He totaled 27 points in two victories against crosstown rival Central Valley.

"His goal is to be league MVP," de la Porte said. "He's a hard-working kid. He's very smart. He really loves basketball. He just wants to get better."

Haynes, a 6-foot-4 transfer from Pennsylvania, has a wing span close to seven feet.

"He's an unbelievable rebounder," de la Porte said. "One of the best I've ever seen."

Dhillon, Borden, Hilgen, Pimentel, Vertner, Cagle and Edgar Lopez helped lead Ceres High's junior-varsity squad to a share of the VOL crown (14-2) in 2008-09.

The Hawks return eight players: David Griffin (F, Sr.), Jamal Wessinger (F, Sr.), Hector Jacobo (F, Sr.), Nate Villegas (F, Sr.), Cristian Gil (F, Sr.), Sunny Moun (G, Sr.), Ryan Sandner (G, Sr.) and Camron Thornton (G, Jr.).

Edward Martinez (F, Jr.) and Miguel Rodriguez (C, So.) are key newcomers.

"We're going to go as far as David takes us," Central Valley head coach Darryl Dickson said.

Ceres High and Central Valley competed in the VOL the past four years.

The Bulldogs and Hawks relocated to the Western Athletic Conference this season as part of Sac-Joaquin Section realignment.

Ceres High and Central Valley will face Central Catholic, Livingston, Patterson and Los Banos.

The Hawks and Bulldogs will qualify for the playoffs if they finish in the Top 16 in the Division II and III power ratings.

"The league is pretty much wide open," de la Porte said. "Every game is huge."

The Bulldogs hold a 3-2 head-to-head record against the Hawks.

Ceres High beat Central Valley twice last year. The Bulldogs overcame a 17-point deficit during the final meeting of the season.

"The five games I've been a part of have gone down to the wire," de la Porte said. "The gyms are always crazy when we play them. It's a battle."

Ceres High won its last league title at the varsity level in 1993-94.

The Bulldogs last participated in the playoffs in 2006-07.

Central Valley has never qualified for the postseason during its four-plus-year history.