An ultimate team player, Ceres High varsity girls basketball standout Nicole Bates had difficulty talking about her individual play following last week's clash with visiting Central Catholic.
"I don't know how to answer that question," she said.
Bates and the Bulldogs dominated from start to finish in posting a 55-46 win over the Raiders on Tuesday, Dec. 23 at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.
Nicole was quick to praise her teammates at the conclusion of the game.
"We passed the ball quick, and set screens, so we got a lot more open shots," Bates said.
Bates scored 24 of her career-high 32 points in the opening half. She shot 78 percent (7 of 9) from the free-throw line for the game. She buried three 3-pointers.
Ceres High held a 32-22 advantage at the break as Central Catholic's 1-3-1 defense proved to be ineffective.
The Bulldogs led 19-10 at the end of the first quarter. Bates had 13 points.
Nicole collected 11 points in the second period.
She even banked in a 3-pointer from the left wing.
"I got a little lucky," Nicole said.
The two teams combined for 40 fouls.
The Bulldogs shot 55 percent (18 of 33) from the foul line.
The Raiders shot 40 percent (10 of 25) from the charity stripe.
"We were more aggressive than we usually are," Bates said. "We drove a lot more, got fouled and shot more free throws."
Bulldog teammate Ariel Knights tallied nine points against the Raiders.
Jessica Arreola shot a perfect 100 percent from the foul line while totaling six points.
Jade Moore and Karina Ceja collected four and three points, respectively.
Kinsey Ward had one point.
Daniel Friedrich scored a team-high 19 points for Central Catholic. Alexandra Candelario added 14 points.
The Bulldogs improved to 4-3 on the year.
The Raiders dropped to 4-6 overall.
Ceres High and Central Catholic were Western Athletic Conference rivals the previous four seasons.
The Raiders moved to the Valley Oak League as part of Sac-Joaquin Section league realignment.
Ceres High split with Central Catholic last season. The Bulldogs won the second meeting, 39-35. Ceres High avenged a 49-33 loss.
The Bulldogs will begin WAC play this Friday at home.
Ceres High and Livingston will face off at 7:30 p.m.
Ceres High and crosstown-rival Central Valley tied for third place in the conference standings (5-7) a year ago. The Bulldogs won five of their final seven games following an 0-5 start.
Ceres High last participated in the postseason during the 2012-13 school year.
"I want us to make it to the playoffs this year," Bates said. "If we keep working hard, we can do it."