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Bulldogs moving forward
Ceres High School's varsity girls basketball team would have been favored to win the Western Athletic Conference title if not for several unexpected roster changes.

Jamie Beck, a 6-foot-2 star volleyball star, decided not to play this year. She earned second-team, all-league honors while starring at center the previous two seasons.

Stephanie Yankovich, Ceres High's third-leading scorer and top returning defender, tore her right Achilles tendon at practice and will be sidelined for the entire year.

"We focus on what we have," head coach Shawna Nunes said. "Not what we don't have. With this particular crew, there's a lot of learning going on. We have a great group of kids. Our goal is to make them the best players they can be."

The Bulldogs will rely heavily on Bryce Ford. The 5-foot-10 sophomore will see playing time at just about every position.

"She has a bigger role now," assistant coach Phil de la Porte said. "She's improved quite a bit. If she continues to work at it, she's going to be a great basketball player. But that's a long ways away."

Lili Jaimes (G, Sr.) and Elizabeth Nunes (G, Sr.), Ceres High's two other returning players, and newcomers Jessica Ellsworth (F, Jr.), Bethany Mazza (G, Jr.), Ashton Frampton (G, Jr.), Sofia Luna (F, Jr.), Sabrina Rinsamout (F, Sr.) and Haley Fisicaro (F, So.) will also contribute.

Ceres High lacks experience, size and depth.

Perimeter shooting will be key.

"We made adjustments to fit what we have," Nunes said. "Everybody will play."

Ceres High missed the playoffs for the second time in three years last season.

The Bulldogs posted a 12-14 overall record and finished in fifth place in the Valley Oak League standings (8-8).

Ceres High will compete in the revamped Western Athletic Conference this year. Opponents include Central Valley, Central Catholic, Livingston, Patterson and Los Banos.

Patterson and Livingston tied for first with identical records of 13-2 a season ago.

Central Catholic placed fourth (5-10).

Los Banos took fourth in the Central California Conference (5-7).

Central Valley was seventh in the VOL (4-12).

"We think we can be competitive with every team in this league," Nunes said.