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CHS grad adjusts to new role in college
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Heather Mazza walked through the side entrance of Phil de la Porte Gymnasium on Nov. 22 and was greeted with hugs and handshakes all the way to her seat. The 2005 Ceres High grad watched her former team post a 59-46 victory over the Pitman Pride.

“I wanted to play,” said Mazza, who spent the Thanksgiving holiday with her family and friends.

Mazza joined the Bethany University women's basketball team following a successful run as the leader of the Ceres High varsity girls basketball squad. She guided the Bulldogs to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship and earned first-team, all-Modesto Metro Conference honors last season. Mazza averaged 11.6 points, 6.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game as a senior.

She received a partial scholarship to the NAIA Division II school, which is located in Scotts Valley, Calif. Mazza and her new teammates bonded over the summer. They worked at a fundraiser and provided lessons at several youth camps. Mazza is living with fellow freshman guard Jillian Mooney.

“I like everyone on my team,” Mazza said. “We all get along.”

Mazza is still working through some growing pains. She has yet to adjust to the college game. The majority of moves Mazza used in high school aren't as effective because everyone's faster.

“There's competition in practice everyday,” Mazza said. “There's four point guards. We're always going at each other.”

Mazza made her collegiate debut against Sacramento State in an exhibition game on Nov. 11. Former coaches Shawna Nunes and Phil de la Porte watched from the stands. Mazza had two points, two rebounds, one assist and six turnovers in 11 minutes during the Bruins' 88-39 loss to the Hornets.

“I was so scared because I started,” she said.

Mazza has appeared in nine of 10 regular-season games.

Bethany began California Pacific Conference play earlier this month. The Bruins had a 1-2 record in league as of today. Mazza averaged 2.7 points, 1.3 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.7 rebounds and 8.3 minutes per game. She shot 67 percent (2-for-3) from the floor and 75 percent (3-for-4) from the free-throw line.

Mazza had two points, three assists, two steals, one rebound and a turnover in a 60-29 victory over Simpson University on Dec. 16. She logged 11 minutes.

Mazza tallied a career-high six points, dished out one assist and committed zero turnovers during Bethany's 85-75 loss to 12th-ranked Cal State East Bay on Dec. 17. Mazza made one 3-pointer and three of four free throws in nine minutes.

She had one rebound and three turnovers in a 55-42 loss to Dominican University on Dec. 10.

Mazza and the Bruins compiled an 0-2 record at the Fresno Pacific University Holiday Classic, Nov. 25-26.

Mazza scored two points on 1-for-1 shooting, grabbed two rebounds and committed one turnover in nine minutes in a 71-42 loss to Fresno Pacific. She totaled three points, one rebound, one assist, one block and three turnovers in 10 minutes in a 116-32 loss to Vanguard University, the No. 1 ranked team.

Mazza had one point, one rebound, one assist, one block and one turnover in eight minutes in a 90-57 loss at Northwest Nazarene University on Nov. 19. On Nov. 18, she went 0-for-1 from the field in two minutes in a 72-60 loss at Albertson College.

“I'm getting better,” Mazza said. “I'm gaining more confidence.”

The Bruins compiled an 8-23 overall record and finished in sixth place in league at 7-12 last season. They lost in the first round of the playoffs. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier