Nicole Bates has returned to full speed after being slowed by a hamstring injury.
The senior guard scored a game-high 23 points as Ceres High's varsity girls basketball team held off visiting Los Banos for a 44-38 victory on Feb. 2 at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.
"I can finally explode off it," Bates said.
The fourth-place Bulldogs improved to 13-9 overall and 5-4 in the WAC.
"This year, we play more as a team," Bates said. "Everyone gets involved. It's not just one person."
Ceres High's Kaylee Holloway tallied six points against Los Banos (8-15, 2-7).
Breanna Moreno and Natalia Cortez collected five and four points, respectively.
Leena Bassi, Ayannah O'Neal and Mahlena O'Neal chipped in with two points apiece.
Ceres High edged host Los Banos 38-31 in overtime on Jan. 7.
The Bulldogs led 39-22 at the end of the third quarter during last week's rematch.
Los Banos made the game interesting by outscoring Ceres High 16-6 in the final period.
"We came out harder today," Bates said. "We also played man-to-man defense. We haven't done that before."
The top three teams in the WAC advance to the postseason.
Central Valley (9-0) and Livingston (8-1) are battling for the top seed.
Patterson (5-3) currently sits in third place.
"We're going to continue to play hard and try to make playoffs," Bates said. "That's our goal."
Ceres High School's junior-varsity girls basketball team defeated Los Banos 35-27 in WAC action last week.
Shelby Veuve totaled a team-high 12 points for the third-place Bulldogs, who improved to 13-8 and 7-2.
Camryn Silva and Angelina Ursua added seven and six points, respectively.
Harmen Bahia and Hannah Kimbro both tallied four points.
Andrea Duran had two points.
The Bulldogs outscored the Tigers 20-7 during the second half.
Ceres High faced a 20-15 deficit at intermission.
Ceres High's freshman girls basketball team improved to 12-3 on the year and 8-1 in the conference play following this past week's 30-21 win against Los Banos.
Angelina Knights led the Bulldogs in scoring with 10 points.
Mariah Trevino had eight points.
Vivian Moreno, Jacquelyn Pulido and Isabella Ramirez all contributed four points.
Ceres High held a 16-7 scoring advantage at the break.