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Dawgs exact Revenge
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Ceres High's varsity boys basketball program gained a small measure of revenge by topping reigning Valley Oak League champion Sierra 52-42 Wednesday night at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.

It was the first meeting between the two teams since the Timberwolves eliminated the Bulldogs from the conference title race in 2006-07 with a 68-53 road victory. Sierra's postgame celebration carried over to the locker room as chants of "Overrated" could be heard by Ceres' players.

"They were very disrespectful," Bulldogs coach Jason Martin said.

"It put a fire in me," said Brett Sayad, Ceres High's 6-foot-7-inch standout wingman. "I was coming out for revenge."

Brett led the Bulldogs with 26 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks, two assists and one steal. Junior point guard Marcus Hilgen tallied 12 points. Thomas Vanderlaan, a 6-foot-7 center, added eight points. Junior guard Martino Bertolotti contributed five points. Sophomore post player Lance Hunter chipped in one point.

Ceres beat Sierra at its own game.

The Bulldogs held the Timberwolves to just 13 points in the first half.

"We played our best defensive game of the year by far," Martin said. "I was really happy with the way we finished the game. We were patient. We didn't panic."

Added Sayad: "We didn't let up at all."

Brett scored 15 of Ceres High's 22 first-half points. He drained three mid-range jumpers and a three-pointer. Sayad also made six of eight foul shots.

"He's tough to guard," Martin said.

Hilgen converted 10 of 12 free throws in the fourth quarter. Marcus' work on the defensive end was even more impressive. He limited Christian Williams, Sierra's leading scorer, to nine points. The junior guard entered the contest with a 15.1-point average.

"He played a great game," Martin said.

Hunter shined on defense as well. The 6-foot-6 forward-center contested shots in the paint and rebounded.

Asked how Ceres would have fared against a healthy Sierra team, Sayad said: "We still would have beat them. But it would have been a lot closer."

The Timberwolves were missing two starters, including returning all-league first-team honoree Adonis Brown. The 6-foot-1 senior forward didn't play because of sickness. He totaled 18 points in last year's win against Ceres.

Sierra ended last week's contest with three straight misses from beyond the arc.

After the buzzer sounded, Sayad walked off the court with his right fist raised in the air. Brett's to-do list just got shorter.

"I had a feeling this was going to happen," he said referring to the Bulldogs' upset of the Timberwolves. "I told all of my friends to come and watch."

Brett emerged from the locker room 15 minutes later with a smile on his face. He received hugs from family members and friends. Modesto Junior College men's hoops coach Paul Brogan also congratulated Sayad, who's rated 38th in the latest Class of 2008 Recruiting Rankings. He's also listed as an honorable-mention pick in the Top 10 NorCal Sr. Boys Wings Report.

Sayad's stock should continue to rise as he tries to earn a college scholarship.

"That's what I'm hoping for," said Brett, who averaged 23.2 points and 9.3 rebounds in Ceres High's first 16 games.