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Bates hits game-tying three at buzzer, Ceres High girls fall in overtime
Dawgs will play host to Tigers this Thursday
Allyson Hailey passes the ball to a teammate during Ceres Highs 54-49 loss to Livingston in varsity girls basketball last week. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Standout guard Nicole Bates forced overtime when she buried a 3-pointer from the left wing at the buzzer during the Ceres High School varsity girls basketball team's Western Athletic Conference opener versus visiting Livingston.

The Wolves regrouped and earned a hard-fought 54-49 victory against the Bulldogs on Friday at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.

Ceres High contributed to its own demise by shooting just 35 percent (8 of 23) from the foul line for the game.

"Of course everybody is upset," Bulldogs head coach Kristen McClure said. "There's a whole bunch of things we could have done differently. If we would have made half of our free throws, we would have won. That's something we need to work on. We let them take wide-open shots. That just can't happen. We definitely have to work on our defense more."

Bates tallied a game-high 22 points for Ceres High, which dropped to 3-5 on the year and 0-1 in the WAC standings.

Karina Ceja added 10 points.

Ariel Knights collected seven points.

Ally Hailey and Jade Moore scored four points each.

Jessica Arreola had one point.

"Nicole has the green light to do whatever she wants on the court," McClure said. "She's our captain. We can always count on her."

Bates' clutch shot at the end of regulation brought back memories of her late-game heroics in a 48-47 win over crosstown-rival Central Valley last season.

"I always have faith in her (Bates) for late-game decisions like that," McClure said. "She played really good the whole game."

Tied at 43-all, Livingston outscored Ceres High 11-6 in the extra period.

The Bulldogs faced a 46-43 deficit at the 3:32 mark.

Ceres High used a 5-0 run to grab a 48-46 lead with 2:44 to play. Bates buried three free throws and Moore scored inside.

The Bulldog mustered just one point the rest of the game. Ceres High missed three of four foul shots during the final two minutes.

"Everybody on the team could have done better," McClure said.