Ceres High’s varsity girls basketball team has a new head coach—its seventh in the last seven years.
Mike Estrada Jr. has been tapped to lead the Bulldogs.
“I was offered another job at a different school,” he said. “I took this job because it’s more of a challenge. There hasn’t been any recent success. I want to change the program around. That’s why they brought me here.”
Ceres High will try to end a pair of droughts this winter.
The Bulldogs haven’t appeared in the playoffs or amassed a winning record the past five seasons.
“We’re looking to get double-digit wins. That’s the goal. We want to be competitive every game.”Mike Estrada Jr.
“We’re looking to get double-digit wins,” Estrada said. “That’s the goal. We want to be competitive every game.”
Ceres High’s top returner players are Camryn Silva (Sr.) and Lauren Gonzalez (Sr.).
The Bulldogs’ top newcomers are Courtney Ford (Sr.), Catryna Marquez (So.), Lysaida Munoz (So.), Celeste Leon (Fr.) and Mia Rodriguez (Fr.).
Silva has been named team captain.
She led Ceres High in scoring and rebounding, and ranked second in steals as a junior.
She averaged 8.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game.
Ceres High lacks depth as its roster features just a total of seven players.
“I’m really focused on developing the players I have,” Estrada said. “We’re going to be fine. I’ve been running them a lot in practice to get them ready for this.”
The Bulldogs’ conference schedule includes games against Los Banos, Pacheco, Beyer, Grace Davis, Johansen, Lathrop and Mountain House.
Beyer, Grace Davis and Johansen moved from the Modesto Metro Conference to the WAC as part of the Sac-Joaquin Section’s realignment plan.
Lathrop and Mountain House previously competed in the Valley Oak League and Trans Valley League.
The top three teams in the WAC advance to the postseason. “It’s my first year,” Estrada said. “Everything is new to me. I don’t know what to expect from the other schools.”
Ceres High posted a 5-18 overall record and placed third in the league standings (3-7) during the 2017-18 campaign.
The Bulldogs secured their last playoff berth under Vanessa Morris’ guidance in 2012-13. Ceres High finished 10-8 and took third in the WAC (6-4).
Under Shawna Nunes’ leadership from 1993-2011, the Bulldogs amassed a 365-142 record, captured one section championship, claimed six league titles, secured 15 playoff berths, won at least 20 games 10 times and surpassed the 30-win mark twice.
Ceres High made history in 2005. It won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II crown at Arco Arena. The Bulldogs also hosted a NorCal playoff game for the first-time ever. Ceres High’s overall record was 25-7.
Pierce Butler, Nunes’ predecessor, led Ceres High to six league titles in 13 years.
“I think we can be a middle-of-the-pack team this year,” Estrada said. “Within two to three years, we should be contenders. I’m going to try to change the culture and how people view the program. I’m trying to get the whole town excited about basketball again.”
This is Estrada’s first job at the prep level. The 2011 Grace Davis High School grad coached the Central Valley Hornets’ eighth-grade girls travel team in 2017-18 and seventh-grade squad in 2016-17. He was a scout player for the Fresno State women’s hoops team for three years.
“I’m just excited to take this next step,” he said. “I love basketball.”