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Bullldogs win WAC crown
Ceres High frosh-soph girls edge CV for conference title
Mya Robinson (right) swings a pass to a Bulldog teammate while being guarded by Hawk Isabella Andres (1). - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Ceres High's and Central Valley's frosh-soph girls basketball teams played for more than bragging rights, school pride and crosstown supremacy this past month.

The visiting Bulldog won the Western Athletic Conference crown outright with a 36-31 victory against the Hawks on Feb. 9.

Central Valley would have claimed a share of the conference championship had it beaten Ceres High on the final day of the season.

"It was a really big game," Bulldogs head coach Aimee Gunzenhauser said. "I think I was more nervous than my players. My anxiety was really high. I tried not to show the girls. They did feel the pressure."

The Bulldogs (9-1) and Hawks (7-3) placed first and second, respectively, in the WAC standings.

Ceres High won the first meeting, 47-34, on Jan. 19 at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.

"Playing Central Valley is always a big game," Gunzenhauser said. "My friend (Jode Johnson) coaches there. She's quiet. I'm loud. We have the same coaching techniques because we were taught by the same people (Shawna Nunes and Phil de la Porte)."

Ceres High post players Naciah Smith and Chrystal Perales, both formerly of Central Valley, combined for 25 points, 31 rebounds and five steals.

"They stepped up big time," Gunzenhauser said. "From day one to the end of the season, their improvement was outstanding."

Smith tallied 17 points, 18 rebounds and two steals.

Perales collected eight points, 13 rebounds, three steals and two assists.

Bulldog reserve guard Gabriela Carrasco had six points.

"She played awesome defense," Gunzenhauser said.

Jacquelyn Pulido added three points, five steals, two rebounds and one assist.

Vivian Moreno contributed two points and nine rebounds.

Maycie Guinn paced the Hawks with a team-high 11 points.

Isabella Andres buried three treys and totaled nine points.

Selina Zamarripa had six points.

Angelina Knights added five points.

Ahead by just one point, Ceres High used a 14-7 run in the third quarter to increase its lead to eight.

The Hawks outscored the Bulldogs 11-7 in the final period.

"It was pretty competitive," Gunzenhauser said. "We won by only five points."

Ceres High compiled a 17-9 overall record this winter.

The Bulldogs roster featured nine players: Smith, Perales, Carrasco, Pulido, Moreno, Jullissa Arreola, Lauren Gonzalez, Mya Robinson and Branda Villalpando.

"They did a phenomenal job listening," Gunzenhauser said. "They worked hard. I couldn't ask for anything more. I have very high expectations for them in the future."

Aimee and her older sister Megan have been coaching together at their alma mater for the past three seasons.

Aimee and Megan graduated from Ceres High in 2009 and 2004, respectively.

"We make a great team," Aimee said. "We're pretty equal in our coaching and get the same respect from our players. We really enjoy what we're doing and being around the girls. We get to make a difference in the students' lives in basketball and school."