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Bulldogs overcome slow start, win crosstown battle with Hawks
The members of Ceres High School's varsity boys basketball team couldn't help but smile when Bulldog fans started cheering during the closing minutes of Wednesday night's 63-53 road win over crosstown-rival Central Valley.

Ceres High improved its all-time record versus the Hawks to 9-3. The Bulldogs have won the last five meetings.

Binder Atwal's teams have never lost to Central Valley.

The second-year varsity guard totaled 17 points in a pair of victories over the Hawks last season.

Atwal racked up 34 points as the Bulldogs beat Central Valley twice at the JV level in 2009-10.

Binder had 27 points while leading the freshman squad to a 2-0 record versus the Hawks.

"It's just like any other game," Atwal said while talking about the Ceres High-Central Valley series. "We treat every opponent the same."

Binder overcame a slow start and exploded for a game-high 24 points against Central Valley last week. Atwal converted 13 of 14 fouls shots.

Jimbo Pernetti added 14 points.

Harman Chung made seven of eight free throws en route to tallying nine points.

Abel Reyes and Jr. Garcia contributed six and four points, respectively.

Caden Johnson and Jose Nava scored three points each.

Ceres High compiled a 3-3 record during the first half of the Western Athletic Conference season.

Miguel Rodriguez poured in a team-high 23 points for Central Valley, which dropped to 2-4 in WAC play. Freshman Jaron Dickson totaled 11 points. Camron Thornton, Diego Sanchez, Ja'Quan Gardner and Jordan Sek chipped in with eight, six, three and two points, respectively.

The Hawks drained four 3-pointers on their way to building a 17-10 lead in the first quarter. Rodriguez had eight points, including two

treys. Dickson and Sanchez each made one 3-pointer.

The Bulldogs faced a 34-30 deficit at halftime. Miguel and Jaron combined for 11 points in the second quarter. Pernetti paced Ceres High with six points.

"They made shots," said Binder, who was limited to just four points in the opening 16 minutes thanks in large part to Central Valley's pesky defense.

The Bulldogs outscored the Hawks 39-23 in the second half. Atwal was unstoppable. He had 13 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter.

"Our intensity dropped," Rodriguez said. "We should have come out more aggressive. We'll get them next time."

"They have a high-powered offense," Atwal said. "They like to run. We slowed them down. We just did all the little things coach always talks about. We executed tonight."

Ceres High shot an impressive 89 percent (17 of 19) from the foul line in the final period.

"We practice shooting free throws all the time," Atwal said. "That's what wins games late in fourth quarters."

Binder's fearlessness on the hard-court also makes a difference.

"We couldn't contain him," Rodriguez said.