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CHS boys impress
Ceres High School's varsity boys basketball team made its debut in the Western Athletic Conference this past week.

The Bulldogs withstood several rallies by Central Catholic before pulling away for a 62-47 victory in front of a standing-room-only crowd Friday night in Modesto.

"It was a battle," Ceres High head coach Brian de la Porte said. "We didn't get up by 15 points until the very end."

The Bulldogs improved to 10-6 on the year and 1-0 in the WAC standings. Ceres High competed in the Valley Oak League the previous four seasons.

The Raiders dropped to 12-7 overall and 0-2 in conference play.

Binder Atwal drained five 3-pointers en route to a career-high 22 points for the Bulldogs.

Ceres High teammates Tre Haynes, Edgar Lopez and John Dhillon also reached double figures in scoring with 14, 13 and 11 points, respectively.

John Fenton, Central Catholic's 6-foot-7 sophomore center, tallied 14 points.

Sophomore Nate Loya, a former Ceres Cowboys youth football player, and Mike Gardner both contributed eight points.

Atwal's fourth 3-pointer increased the Bulldogs' lead to 42-33 with 47 seconds to play in the third quarter.

The Raiders overcame a nine-point deficit in the final period. Chad Schimunek made two clutch free throws.

Tied at 42-all, the Bulldogs accounted for 20 of the game's final 25 points to secure the victory. Atwal and Lopez each scored five points. Haynes and Dhillon chipped in with four points apiece. Chris Hilgen had two points.

"We had the big run at the end to finish," de la Porte said. "Our kids stepped it up. They rose their intensity up a notch. They got rebounds, stops and hit some big shots. That's what it comes down to."

Added Haynes: When we keep our energy level up, we play good basketball. We stayed hungry."

Ceres High and Central Catholic will both play shorthanded this week.

A total of nine players, including five Bulldogs, earned one-game suspensions for leaving the bench during an on-court altercation in the fourth quarter of Friday's contest. Schimunek and Dhillon had to be separated by their teammates. Officials stopped the game with 23.7 seconds left in regulation.

"It was about to get out of control," de la Porte said. "There was no need to keep playing it. It's really too bad it had to end that way. It was a fun game for both teams to play in. It was competitive."

The Bulldogs will play host to Los Banos (10-7, 1-1) today at 7:30 p.m.

"Our kids' confidence is pretty high right now," de la Porte said. "They definitely have some swagger."