Ceres High School’s girls basketball team compiled a 6-20 overall record and finished in sixth place in the Western Athletic Conference standings with a 3-11 mark this winter.
“Obviously, we would have liked to have more wins,” said Megan McGill, first-year head coach of the Bulldogs. “Our team never gave up this season. They’re fighters.”
Ceres High closed out the 2022-23 season with a 53-29 loss at Mountain House Feb. 9.
“They have a really talented team,” McGill said. “They’re tall, quick and athletic.”
Marissa Renteria led the Bulldogs with 12 points, six steals and five rebounds.
Jaleen Melendez had seven points, six rebounds, one steal and one block.
Sovannary Carter had six points, four rebounds and one steal.
Arrayah Stallworth had three points, five rebounds, two blocks and one steal.
“Our girls battled,” McGill said. “We kept it close the first three quarters.”
Ceres High snapped a three-game losing streak with a 55-49 win over visiting Grace Davis on Senior Night at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium on Feb. 7.
Upperclassmen Melendez, Carmen Espinoza, Ally Gamboa Rozell, Karicia Ramos and Alexa Sandoval competed at home for the final time.
“I started all five seniors,” McGill said. “I wanted to get them all on the floor and make sure they were celebrated.”
Melendez led the Bulldogs with 19 points, four steals, two rebounds and one block.
Renteria had 17 points, seven steals, five rebounds and one assist.
Stallworth had eight points, nine rebounds and one block.
Carter had seven points, seven rebounds and two steals.
Makenna Azavedo had two points and one rebound.
“I’m really proud of the girls,” McGill said. “We took control after the first quarter and finished strong.”
Ceres High posted a 1-1 record versus Grace Davis this season.
The Bulldogs lost the first meeting, 72-66, on Jan. 17 in Modesto.
“We implemented a full-court press,” McGill said while talking about the keys to her team’s success during the rematch. “That created a lot of turnovers. Our girls ran our offense really well.”
Ceres High beat Beyer twice and Grace Davis, Central Valley, Venture Academy and Stone Ridge Christian once during the 2022-23 campaign.
“We were expecting more wins,” McGill said. “The girls were committed to give full effort no matter what. They kept working and fighting. We got a lot better at rebounding. More players got comfortable handling the ball. They’re a great group. They’re very coachable.”
McGill coached hoops at the lower-level for the past three seasons before earning a promotion to the varsity position.
“It’s nice to be able to implement my vision for the program,” said McGill, Ceres High’s eighth head coach in the past 11 years. “It’s a big learning curve. The teams at the varsity level are more competitive. The game moves a lot quicker. I had to make some adjustments. Looking back, there are always things you can do differently. I might have started with more focus on fundamentals.”
Ceres High will compete with a revamped roster next winter.
Melendez, Carmen Espinoza, Ally Gamboa Rozell, Karicia Ramos and Alexa Sandoval will be lost to graduation.
“They’ll be missed,” McGill said. “They’re a really special group. They took on the leadership role on and off the court.”
Renteria, Stallworth, Carter, Azavedo, Valeria Arroyo, Gabby Rebello, Emma Sexton and Nehemiah Valenzuela could return to the next team in 2023-24.
Renteria, Azavedo, Arroyo and Rebello are juniors.
Sexton and Valenzuela are sophomores.
Stallworth and Carter are freshmen.
Renteria and Stallworth ranked first in scoring and rebounding, respectively, on the team this year.
“They (Renteria, Stallworth and Carter) are going to have to step into bigger leadership roles,” McGill said.
“She (Stallworth) is such a phenomenal athlete,” she added. “She’s learning how to refine her basketball techniques. I’m excited to see what she achieves next year.”
Ceres High secured its last playoff berth in 2012-13. The Bulldogs finished 10-8 and took third in the WAC (6-4) under Vanessa Morris’ guidance.
“We have some young talent,” McGill said. “They’ll keep improving.”