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Basketball, wrestling teams practice
Ceres High's and Central Valley's boys and girls basketball, and wrestling programs held their first official practices for the 2010-11 winter sports season last week.

The Hawks' varsity, junior-varsity and freshman boys basketball teams attended two-a-day practice sessions on Thursday and Friday.

The Hawks are preparing for a grueling preseason schedule.

Central Valley will play 17 games in 30 days.

"This is just the beginning," Hawks head coach Darryl Dickson said. "We're doing our best to get them ready. We hit them really hard with conditioning. Their bodies are feeling it. We're trying to build mental toughness."

"It's not too bad," Central Valley senior post player David Griffin said. "We're still getting used to all the running."

At Ceres High on Friday, varsity girls basketball coaches Shawna Nunes and Phil de la Porte worked with a new mix of players.

From 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., sophomore point guard Bryce Ford and her teammates dedicated time to offense, defense and free-throw shooting.

The Bulldogs are moving forward without Jode Johnson, Jamie Beck and Stephanie Yankovich.

Johnson graduated in June. She earned a scholarship to William Jessup University.

Beck, a 6-foot-2 volleyball star, opted not to play this year.

Yankovich, one of the team's top returning guards and smartest defenders, tore her right Achilles during practice on Wednesday. She'll miss the entire season.

Ceres High had just eight players on its roster at the end of last week.

"You coach what you have and make them the best players they can be," Nunes said. "We're pushing them. It's going to be a slow process, but they're going to get it. This is a group of kids who want to win."

Across campus, Bulldog wrestlers stayed busy from 3-6 p.m. in their new training room.

Coaches Jon Nowicki and Steve Festa demonstrated moves.

They barked out instructions.

A lack of effort resulted in sprints and pushups.

Ceres High lost a wealth of talent to graduation, including Curtis Hulstine, Tony Spinella and Keegan Overbey.

"We have a good group of kids," Nowicki said. "They're young and inexperienced. By the end of the season, we're going to have a pretty solid team."