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Chavez hosts first-ever home contest
Cesar Chavez Jr. High's boys basketball teams played at home for the first time on Feb. 7.

Classmates held signs and cheered while the Tigers battled crosstown-rival Mae Hensley.

Chavez's new gymnasium, which can seat up to 1,000 people, was half full.

"You saw the turnout of the kids," said Jose Beltran, principal of Ceres Unified's first-year junior high. "They came out in droves. It's awesome to see the smiles on their faces. That's what it's all about."

Chavez's seventh-grade A-team lost 50-32 to Mae Hensley's eighth-grade squad.

"We had fun," Tigers standout Daniel Ulloa said. "It feels awesome to finally play at our own school. It's pretty big for a junior-high gym."

Ulloa paced Chavez with a game-high 14 points.

Ismael Ontiveros buried three treys en route to tallying nine points.

Blane Abeyta scored three points.

Nick Jones and Jordan McGrath each contributed two points.

Adrian Espinoza had one point.

The Warriors' leading scorer was Austin Stiles (12 points).

Ryan Vierra and Martin Reyes finished with 10 points apiece.

Will Hilgen, Ulises Diaz and Jacob Martinez had seven, four and three points, respectively.

Joseph Roudebush and Jonathan Garcia both scored two points.

Stiles and his Mae Hensley teammates enjoyed playing on Chavez's new court.

"I like this gym," Stiles said. "It's pretty cool. It has light floors. It reminds me of Central Valley."

The Tigers fell behind 29-20 in the opening half.

Ontiveros accounted for Chavez's first basket. His 3-pointer gave the Tigers their first and only lead of the game at 3-2 with 6:09 remaining in the first period.

The Warriors' lead swelled to 14 points in the third period.

Mae Hensley, which improved its record versus Chavez to 0-3, dominated inside.

"We played good defense and started passing more down low," Stiles said.

Said Ulloa: "We need more practice."

Chavez's seventh-grade B-team lost 42-33 to the Warriors' seventh-grade squad.

Mae Hensley, which improved to 15-2 on the year, pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Five different players scored for the Tigers.

Gerardo Solorzano totaled a game-high 13 points.

Andrew McKim, Andy Valesquez, Jay Chowlia and Joshua Buerer chipped in with eight, seven, three and two points, respectively.

Austin Crain collected a team-high nine points for Mae Hensley.

Dylan Cummings and Wyatt Ogden added seven and six points, respectively.

The Tigers staged practices outside and home games at Mae Hensley prior to the opening of Chavez's new gym.

The front entrance and lobby area, along with the snack bar and restrooms, will be completed by the end of the month.

"It's been a little bit of a transition," Beltran said. "We're excited. The gymnasium is beautiful."