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Ford's time to shine
Shawna Nunes has coached some great players during her 17-year stint with Ceres High School's varsity girls basketball program.

Vanessa Morris (1996), Shannon Donnelly (1999), Delise Young (1999), Reshundra Smiley (2001) and Heather Mazza (2005) received scholarships from Oregon State, Cal State Stanislaus, Chico State, Marshall University and Bethany University, respectively.

"Every year, we've lost a kid we rely on," Nunes said. "But somebody else stepped up."

A role player for the Bulldogs as a freshman, Bryce Ford will be relied upon heavily the next three years. The 5-foot-10 guard is being groomed this summer as a replacement for three-time Ceres High Athlete of the Year winner Jode Johnson, who's weighing scholarship offers from William Jessup University and Central Arizona College.

"Bryce has the potential but it's completely up to her," Nunes said. "It's a matter how she works in the offseason. They (Morris, Young, Donnelly, Smiley, Mazza and Johnson) did things on their own to get better."

"I have to play like her (Johnson) but be myself," Ford said.

Ford and Bulldog teammates Stephanie Yankovich (senior), Lili Jaimes (senior), Elizabeth Nunes (senior), Ranjoth Sandhu (senior), Bethany Mazza (junior), Ashton Frampton (junior), Laura Story (sophomore) and Dia Borden (sophomore) all benefited from playing in the Ceres High Women's Summer League. Ceres played Oakdale, Hughson and Denair twice, and Downey and Grace Davis once. The eight-game season started on June 8 and ended on July 1.

"Every minute on the court is valuable for learning," Nunes said.

Ceres High will move to the Western Athletic Conference in 2010-11. The Bulldogs, members of the Valley Oak League from 2006-10, will battle Central Valley, Central Catholic, Patterson, Livingston and Los Banos this winter.

Bryce's development during the offseason will be key.

"I'm willing to put in the time to get better," Ford said. "Basketball is my favorite sport. I just like to play hard every game."

Added Nunes: "She should be able to produce more."