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CHS boys hoops seek major turnaround
• Dawgs to compete in revamped Western Athletic Conference
Ceres High’s varsity boys basketball program returns several starters from last year’s 12-15 team, including senior Elijah Hughes (34) and sophomore Derrick O’Neal (2). - photo by Dale Butler

Ceres High’s varsity boys basketball team compiled a 12-15 overall record and finished in fourth place in the Western Athletic Conference standings during the 2017-18 season.

Second-year head coach T.J. Walker believes the Bulldogs will enjoy a big turnaround this winter.

“The opportunity is there for this team to make some noise,” he said. 

“He (Walker) has a lot of confidence in us,” Ceres High senior Christian Murry said. 

The Bulldogs’ top returners are Murry, Elijah Hughes (Sr.), Derrick O’Neal (So.), Brock DeWitt (Sr.), Joshua Pernetti (Jr.) and Brock Moore (Sr.).

“We expect a lot from them,” Walker said. “They have expereince.”

Hughes, a 6-foot-3 post player, was selected to the WAC First Team as a junior.

He ranked fourth in scoring and second in rebounding in league.

He averaged 13.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.

Hughes shot 62 percent (40 of 65) from the field.

Murry averaged 5.9 points and 2.5 rebounds.

O’Neal averaged 3.9 points and 2.4 assists as a freshman at the varsity level.

DeWitt averaged 2.7 points.

Pernetti averaged 2.4 points.

Moore averaged 1.3 points.

Ceres High’s top newcomers are Verlis Smith (Fr.), Malakhi Shimon (Jr.), Isaiah Alcorn (Jr.) and Aaron Delgado (Jr.).

Shimon, Alcorn and Delgado suited up for Ceres High’s 1-9 junior-varsity boys basketball team a year ago.

“Our chemistry is better this year,” Murry said. “We have more depth on the bench. There’s more energy in practice. We compete more. We have more aggression.”

“We’re still young,” Walker added. “The quicker we grow, the better we’ll be. The kids know what they need to do.”

The Bulldogs’ conference schedule will include games against Los Banos, Pacheco, Beyer, Grace Davis, Johansen, Lathrop and Mountain House.

Beyer, Grace Davis, Johansen, Lathrop and Mountain House moved to the WAC as part of the Sac-Joaquin Section’s realignment plan.

Beyer, Grace Davis and Johansen are former members of the Modesto Metro Conference.

Lathrop and Mountain House previously competed in the Valley Oak League and TVL.

The Bulldogs went 5-5 against league opponents last season.

“We’re excited about the realignment,” Walker said. “It makes our league schedule stronger so we can get a better seed for playoffs. We’re banner chasing. Winning league is part of that.”

“We have a lot of confidence,” Murry added. “We’re going to have a successful season. Everyone just needs to do their role.”