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Ceres varsity boys basketball squad nets victories
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The Ceres High varsity boys basketball team opened up league play with back-to-back losses.

Wins over Grace Davis, Downey and Beyer last week kept the Bulldogs' postseason hopes alive. Ceres High improved to 11-6 overall, 2-3 in the Modesto Metro Conference.

“This week was our season,” Bulldogs coach Jason Martin said.

Added Ceres High junior Kevin Dupree: “We had to do it if we want to make the playoffs.”

The Bulldogs earned their third straight conference win with a 59-46 defeat of Grace Davis on Saturday at Ceres High's Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.

“We did what we were supposed to do,” Dupree said.

Nine Bulldogs scored against the Spartans (12-6, 1-4). Dupree led the way with a team-high 11 points. Brad Muniz and Ross Tate both tallied nine points. Brett Sayad and Steven Downs had eight points apiece. Bryant Hill, Ray Green and Andrew Chipponeri added six, four and three points, respectively.

Ryan Ghazeri led Grace Davis with 19 points. Leroy Velasquez and Eric Waterford had 12 and 11 points apiece.

Ahead by three, Ceres High opened the fourth quarter with a 13-3 run to extend its lead to 54-41 with 3:10 remaining.

“That was huge,” Martin said.

Sayad had five straight points, including a thunderous two-handed dunk, which sent the home crowd into a frenzy. Dupree scored four points. He hit an 11-foot turnaround jumper and converted a layup off Muniz's steal. Tate buried a long-range shot. Green made both of his free throws.

Ceres High outscored Grace Davis 5-0 in the final 48.8 seconds. Muniz converted four of six free throws. Sayad made one foul shot.

“We're a fourth-quarter team,” Dupree said.

Added Martin: “We did a better job boxing out in the second half. That's what kept Davis in the game in the first half.”

Downs, Tate, Muniz, Dupree and Hill helped Ceres High build a 27-21 lead in the first half.

Downs, a 6-foot-6 center, had seven points. In the first quarter, he hit a hook shot in the lane. Downs scored five straight points in the second quarter. He banked in a left-handed hook shot and converted a three-point play (right-handed hook shot and free throw).

“That's what we got to do,” Martin said. “We got to use our size.”

Tate, Muniz and Dupree added seven, five and four points, respectively.

Hill, a 6-foot-2 forward, scored three points, including a tipin with 12.7 seconds remaining.

The Bulldogs shot 48 percent (16-for-33) from the free-throw line for the game. The Spartans shot 67 percent (20-for-30) from the foul line.

Sayad and Dupree combined for 33 points during Ceres High's 48-39 win over the Downey Knights Friday night in Modesto. Sayad had 17. Dupree tallied 16.

Ahead 38-35, Dupree buried a long-range jumper and Sayad followed with a three-point play to put the Bulldogs ahead 43-35 with 2 minutes, 45 seconds left in regulation.

Ceres High outscored Downey 14-10 in the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs led 34-29 at the end of the third quarter.

Dupree had a career-high 30 points and 18 rebounds in leading Ceres High to a 70-67 victory over Beyer in overtime Wednesday night in Modesto.

Downs and Tate added 13 and 11 points, respectively.

The Bulldogs trailed 30-27 at intermission.

Dupree accounted for 22 of Ceres High's 43 points in the second half.

Down 44-41, the Bulldogs outscored the Patriots 16-13 in the third quarter and 13-10 in overtime.

Ceres High will play at Modesto High on Friday at 7:15 p.m.

The Bulldogs will host the Johansen Vikings on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Ceres High will hold a dedication for its renovated gym, named in honor of Phil de la Porte, at 10 a.m.

“We got 10 more games to go,” Martin said. “It's going to be exactly the same. Every team in our league is going to make it a close game. We have to keep on getting better.”

Said Dupree: “We know we can stick with every team out there.” - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier