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Ceres High boys, girls hoops teams secure playoff berths
• Bulldogs experience major turnarounds
CHS girls team Feb 14 2024
Ceres High’s girls basketball team improved to 20-7 and locked up second place in the WAC standings last week. The Bulldogs won just a total of six games during the 2022-23 season. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Ceres High’s girls and boys basketball teams have both experienced major turnarounds from a season ago.

A year removed from struggling to a 6-20 overall record, Ceres High’s girls program notched its 20th win of the season and locked up second place in the Western Athletic Conference during the final week of the regular season.

The Bulldogs also earned their first Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth since 2012-13.

“It’s incredible to see their hard work pay off,” second-year head coach Megan McGill said. 

Ceres High knocked off WAC-champion Mountain House 65-55 on Thursday at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.

“We wanted to send a message and we did,” McGill said. “We’re a playoff team.”

The Bulldogs improved to 20-7 overall and posted the second-best record in the WAC (11-3). Ceres High won just three games while finishing in sixth place in league last winter.

“The change of a program doesn’t show immediately,” McGill said. “The girls were getting better every day last season.”

Ceres High’s Marissa Renteria scored 23 of her career-high 32 points in the third quarter versus Mountain House. She also collected five rebounds, three steals, two assists and one block.

“Marissa had a chip on her shoulder for this game,” said McGill. “Last time we played, she did not score. She was locked in.”

Arrayah Stallworth tallied 10 points, eight rebounds, two steals and one block.

Hailey Tsurui added nine points, three rebounds and one steal.

Sovannary Carter had seven points, nine rebounds, one assist and one steal.

Savannah Leifried had four points, six rebounds and one steal.

Valeria Arroyo had three points and one rebound.

Gaby Rebello had two rebounds and one block.

Makenna Azavedo and Serena Chalk both had one rebound.

A tale of two halves, the Bulldogs dominated the Mustangs during the final two periods.

Ceres High trailed by 12 points at intermission.

The Bulldogs lost 58-26 to the host Mustangs on Jan. 18. 

“I think Mountain House underestimated us."

Arroyo, Azavedo, Chalk, Rebello, Renteria, Mireya Estrada, Yareli Jimenez and Kiera Valdovinos, Ceres High’s eight senior players, were recognized before their final home regular-season game. They’ll be lost to graduation in June.

“They’ve been a big part of the culture of the team. They brought leadership on and off the court.”

Ceres High defeated Grace Davis 53-28 on Feb. 6 in Modesto.

Renteria led the Bulldogs with 21 points, six rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocks.

Stallworth had 12 points, eight rebounds, six blocks, five steals and one assist.

Leifried added eight points, two rebounds and one assist.

The Bulldogs were awarded the No. 15 seed for one of the Sac-Joaquin Section’s four Division-II Playoff Play-In Games. 

Ceres High’s boys basketball team capped off the regular season with a split this past week.

The Bulldogs edged the Grace Davis Spartans 60-57 on Senior Night at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium on Feb. 5.

Ceres High won the first meeting, 67-63.

“They took us down to the wire again,” said head coach T.J. Walker Jr.

Bulldog upperclassmen A.J. Brown, Gurman Dhaliwal, Ezekial Lopez and Antwan Stevenson were honored before their last home game.

“It’s a great senior group,” Walker said. “They worked hard every day.”

Brown had 17 points, two assists, two steals and one rebound against the Spartans.

Dhaliwal had 10 points, two rebounds, one steal and one block.

Lopez had one assist and one block.

Ceres High’s Manny Ortega added 17 points, eight rebounds and one assist versus Grace Davis.

Carey Mastin contributed 11 points, 11 assists, seven steals and one rebound.

Ceres High lost 87-58 at Mountain House on Feb. 7.

Ortega had 19 points and seven rebounds against the first-place Mustangs (22-6, 14-0).

Dhaliwal had 11 points, five rebounds and one block.

Mastin had nine points, three assists, two steals and one rebound.

Ceres High moved to 17-10 on the season and finished in second place in the WAC standings with a 10-4 mark. The Bulldogs went 13-15 and placed fifth in league (7-7) during the 2022-23 season.

“We’re where we’re supposed to be at,” Walker said. “We’ve been consistent all year.”

The Bulldogs were awarded the Sac-Joaquin Section’s 18th-and-final Division-II Playoff Play-In berth.