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Ceres grad Mazza busy
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Heather Mazza practiced with her alma mater for 90 minutes on June 21 at Blaker-Kinser Jr. High School. The 2005 Ceres High grad leaves for Bethany College in Scotts Valley, on Aug. 20. Mazza earned a basketball scholarship.

"I was scared at first," she said. "Now I'm looking forward to playing because I met some of my teammates."

Bethany women's basketball coach Dan Mooney and seven of his players, including Mazza, conducted a basketball camp for 25 fourth through 10th graders at Capital Christian High School in Sacramento earlier this month. Mazza volunteered, June 13-16.

"I got off work so I could meet players," she said.

"I found out who my roommate was." Mazza will be living with freshman teammate Jillian Mooney, Dan's daughter.

Mazza had a busy schedule at the camp. Each session started at 8 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m.

"We had to be there at 7 a.m.," she said. "It was really long days."

Mazza also got to compete with and against her new teammates.

"We stayed after for an hour each day," she said. "We played 3-on-3."

Mazza went to a team fundraiser event at the Monterey Bay Blues Festival this past weekend. She worked at a food stand.

On Monday and Tuesday, Mazza took part in a Bethany College sponsored youth basketball clinic at Sierra Christian High School in Rocklin.

Work permitting, Mazza will continue to dedicate as much time as she can to basketball. Mazza is employed at Prime Shine Express Car Wash.

"They work around my schedule so I can play," she said.

Mazza attended the 16th Annual Ceres High Bulldog Basketball Camp on Monday, Tuesday and Friday of last week. She assisted her former coaches, Shawna Nunes and Phil de la Porte. Mazza also participated for the sixth year in a row.

"I started going in the seventh grade," Mazza said.

"I'll help them anytime. They're the reason I got the scholarship."

Mazza has already started to prepare for the upcoming season. She wants to make sure she's in tip-top shape before the first day of practice.

"I'm trying to get in the best shape I can. And play as much as I can," Mazza said. "I can't go down there out of shape."

For the remainder of the summer, Mazza will run with fellow Ceres High grads Meghan Franksen and Brittany Randle in the mornings and compete at Hughson High School in the evenings.

"The Ceres gym is closed so the only thing I can do is play in pick-up games," Mazza said. "I'm trying to find places to play."

Mazza averaged 11.6 points, 6.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds en route to earning first-team, all-Modesto Metro Conference honors in 2004-05. She helped lead Ceres High to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship at Arco Arena.

The three previous seasons, Mazza was a role player. Her game took off during the summer after her junior year.

Mazza needs to improve to be successful at the next level.

"I got to work on my left hand and defense," she said.

Mazza will vie for playing time in the backcourt at Bethany College.

"It's going to be hard with three point guards competing for the one spot," she said. "I'll be happy if I get to play five minutes." - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier