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CHS boys knock off El Dorado
Austin Stiles helped Ceres High Schools varsity boys basketball team secure a Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoff berth on the final day of the regular season. Stiles had six points in a 49-33 win over visiting Pacheco on Feb. 16.

Ceres High School's varsity boys basketball team turned in a gutsy effort while facing El Dorado this past week in Placerville.

The 18th-seeded Bulldogs battled back from a 14-point deficit on their way to stunning the No. 15 Cougars 58-54 during Friday's Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III out-bracket playoff game.

"We played one of our best games of the year at the right time," Ceres High senior forward-guard Brad Bussard said.

Bussard tallied just six points but buried two clutch free throws with 1.5 seconds remaining in the game.

He was also a major contributor on defense.

"Everybody played a huge part in getting us the lead," he said. "I did what I had to do to help my team seal the win. It's satisfying. All of our hard work paid off."

Puneet Sahi scored a team-high 16 points for the Bulldogs (14-11, 7-5 Western Athletic Conference).

Ceres High's Joshneil Sandhu, Nick Burt, Austin Stiles and Haaydn Martinez totaled 11, 10, nine and six points, respectively.

Isaac Bugbee and Ian Spencer both tallied a game-high 18 points for El Dorado (16-11, 6-4 Sierra Valley Conference).

Matt Smith, Brian Lane and Dylan Heibel contributed 13, three and two points, respectively.

Ceres High never lost confidence despite falling behind 19-8 in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs cut the deficit to one at 27-26 in the second quarter.

Ceres High outscored El Dorado 32-27 the rest of the way.

The Cougars shot 50 percent (10 of 20) from 3-point-range for the game.

"They were hitting every shot," Bussard said. "We changed our defensive game plan. We face-guarded their best player."

A starter at the lower-level, Bussard has embraced being a reserve player this year. "I've accepted my role and done everything I could to make the team better," he said.

Ceres High upset El Dorado.
The Bulldogs last won in the postseason during the 2000-01 school year. Ceres High defeated Stagg 67-54 in a play-in game.

"We didn't go all the way up there (Placerville) to lose," Bussard said. "We competed hard. It's a great feeling. It's good for our program, school and community."

Ceres High will face a tall task on Wednesday when it travels to Fairfield to face No. 2 Vanden (22-5) in a first-round playoff matchup. "At this point, we're hoping to shock the world," Bussard said. "Nobody expects us to win. From what we've seen, they're a lot bigger than us. The key to beating a team like that is outhustling them and limiting our mistakes."