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."