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Kevin Dupree and Andrew Chipponeri played basketball together for three seasons at Ceres High School. Now they're teammates at Modesto Junior College.

"I wouldn't say it's a dream but it's special because he's my best friend," Dupree said.

"We're together almost everyday," Chipponeri added. "It helps (on the court) because we know each other's strengths and weaknesses."

Dupree turned down a track and field scholarship to Central Arizona College so he could continue his two-sport career.

Kevin broke into the Pirates' starting lineup during the second half of the season. The 6-foot-5, 197-pound freshman power forward tallied a career-high 12 points in a 71-68 loss to American River on Jan. 25 at Modesto JC. Dupree has been slowed by a knee injury in recent weeks.

Chipponeri planned to redshirt this year. When teammate and freshman point guard Mo Alaniz of Turlock was critically injured in a head-on automobile accident on McHenry Avenue on Nov. 29, Andrew was activated to provide the Pirates with more depth.

"We wish he (Mo) was here," Chipponeri said.

Added Dupree: "We're grateful to be playing. We pray before every game."

Andrew, a 6-foot, 180-pound guard, is one of the first players to come off the bench for Modesto JC. He backs up sophomores Brian Bergerson (Johansen) and Eleazar Jones (Los Banos).

Chipponeri said his most productive game came against Sierra. He had three points, five assists and five rebounds in an 81-67 victory over the host Wolverines on Feb. 1.

Kevin, Andrew and the Pirates almost upset Diablo Valley in Big 8 Conference play on Feb. 12 at Modesto JC. The Vikings, ranked No. 7 in the state, escaped with a 63-60 victory.

Dupree tallied four points. He was in the game when the Pirates rallied down the stretch. Kevin played defense and rebounded.

Chipponeri didn't score but logged a considerable amount of playing time.

Modesto JC must win two of its final three games to advance to the postseason.

Asked if the Pirates would make the playoffs, Dupree said: "That's what we're working on."

Kevin and Andrew were greeted by their family and friends following the three-point loss to Diablo Valley. Former high school and AAU teammate Brett Sayad and coach Brian de la Porte were in attendance.

"I love it," Chipponeri said when asked to talk about the experience of playing close to home. "I wouldn't be able to do this anywhere else."

When Modesto JC men's equipment manager Reno McGuire emerged from the locker room to collect the last of two Pirates jerseys that needed to be washed, Dupree and Chipponeri laughed as they stripped down to their underwear. Kevin joked with Andrew.

"Your girlfriend's looking at me," he said.

Kevin and Andrew were rivals before forging a friendship in the ninth grade.

Dupree attended Blaker-Kinser. Chipponeri went to Mae Hensley. The Warriors swept the Sharks in the seventh and eighth grade.

"We won all four games," Chipponeri said.

"I couldn't stand any Mae Hensley players," Dupree said.

At Ceres High, Kevin's and Andrew's teams had a combined winning percentage of .725 (58-22).

They led the Bulldogs' freshman boys basketball squad to a 20-4 record in 2003-04.

They didn't play together as sophomores. Dupree earned a promotion to the varsity squad. Chipponeri started at the JV level.

Andrew reunited with Dupree the following year and the two helped propel Ceres High to a 17-11 record, second-place finish in the Modesto Metro Conference (9-6) and first playoff appearance since 2002-03.

The Bulldogs won 21 of 28 games, finished in a tie for third place at 10-4 in the Valley Oak League with Sonora and secured their second straight postseason berth in 2006-07. Dupree averaged 11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. He made the All-VOL Second Team. Chipponeri averaged 5.2 points and 3.4 assists per contest.

Kevin and Andrew capped off their prep careers at the Madness in the Mother Lode Extravaganza Large-Schools All-Star Boys Basketball Game on April 14 at Columbia College. They suited up for the Red team, which posted a double-digit victory over the White All-Stars.