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Dhaliwal contributing to MJC team
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Simi Dhaliwal isn't a flashy player. She's a decent shooter. She can handle the rock. And she's a solid defender.

Dhaliwal, a 2004 Ceres High graduate, is a member of the Modesto Junior College women's basketball team.

"She's consistent," said Modesto JC coach Mike Girardi.

The 5-7 freshman guard is averaging four points and one assist per game. She's shooting 48 percent from the field.

"Simi doesn't care how many points she scores a night," Girardi said. "She's a team player. She does all the little things, especially on defense. She usually guards the other team's best player."

Dhaliwal didn't plan on playing basketball in college. She changed her mind after Modesto High graduate Diana Felix, a friend and current teammate, convinced her to try out for the team.

"I was going to play volleyball," Simi said. "Then I realized I liked basketball more."

Simi survived tryouts and earned a spot in the starting lineup.

"I worked so hard to get my starting position," she said. "That was my main goal."

Dhaliwal has missed just two practices the entire season.

"I've stayed dedicated to the team," she said. "That's why I'm having a lot of success here."

Dhaliwal hasn't had any trouble adjusting to the college level.

"It's a lot more fast paced," she said. "You have to be a lot more focused to play."

Dhaliwal is having a lot of fun even though the Pirates have lost 19 of 20 games.

"We're not a bad team," she said. "We've beaten every team in at least one half. We haven't been able to finish.

"I know we can do better."

Simi played varsity basketball for one year and JV for two years at Ceres High School.

"I never stopped playing basketball," she said. "I just didn't play for my high school during my senior year."

Dhaliwal played for the Modesto Magic. She also participated in pickup games with friends.

The 2005-06 Pirates should be much improved thanks in large part to chemistry. This year's team, which features two sophomores and eight freshmen, was assembled after classes started.

"I'll come back next year regardless of what our record is this year," Dhaliwal said. "I love playing for MJC. I like the coaches. I like the program."

Added Girardi: "She's going to be a big part of our team next year."

Dhaliwal is an English major. She wants to transfer to UC Davis and pursue a career in teaching. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff Reporter of The Ceres (Calif.) Courier