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John Dhillon has emerged as a consistent threat on the offensive end during his first season with Ceres High School's varsity boys basketball team.

Led by the junior point guard's 20 points and late-game clutch shooting, the Bulldogs staved off a fourth-quarter rally to beat city rival Central Valley 52-39 in front of a noisy, near-capacity crowd Friday night at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.

"Even if I wasn't getting minutes, I'd still be cheering my teammates on from the bench," Dhillon said.

Katero Lebeau, John's backcourt mate, also played like a veteran. The senior guard scored seven of his 12 points in the first half.

"I got my grades up to come back and play ball," said Lebeau, who spent his junior year at Argus High School.

The duo had no choice but to step up as Justin Canatsy. the Bulldogs' leading scorer for the season, never got going due to foul trouble and suffocating defense.

"John hit some big shots and free throws," Ceres High head coach Brian de la Porte said. "Katero did a great job attacking."

The Bulldogs could have won by a larger margin but the Hawks refused to throw in the towel.

Down 41-30, Central Valley scored six unanswered points to close the gap to five with 3:37 to play in the fourth quarter.

Ceres High closed the game on an 11-3 run.

Dhillon had seven points. He drained a 3-pointer and finished a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe.

John continues to deliver when called upon.

He continues to quiet the doubters.

"It motivates you even more," Dhillon said.

"I'm not going to lie," de la Porte said. "I had reservations. He's adjusted well. He's the smartest guy in our program."

Sparked by the play of Brian Blunt, Greg Mathews and David Griffin, Central Valley tallied 10 of the contest's first 12 points in the opening three minutes of the game.

Mathews threw down a two-handed, jaw-dropping dunk off a lob pass from Blunt and was called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim.

Blunt converted a four-point play and made a pair of free throws.

Griffin added two points.

Brian, David and Greg totaled 12, 11 and nine points, respectively.

"I thought we were going to win," Mathews said. "It's very frustrating. We needed to make more buckets and play aggressive defense. We just got overwhelmed. We'll get them next time."

Dhillon and the Bulldogs will try to complete a season sweep of the Hawks. Central Valley defeated Ceres High twice in conference play last year.

"It's always good to put on a show for your home fans," John said.