Ceres High’s boys basketball team topped Grace Davis and lost to Mountain House during the final week of the season.
“I had a blast coaching them this year,” Bulldogs’ head coach T.J. Walker Jr. “The kids worked their tails off. That kept us competitive all year long. We put ourselves in positions to win games. We lost three games in league when we were up late in the fourth quarter. We couldn’t get over the hump.”
Ceres High defeated upset-minded Grace Davis 54-45 on Feb. 6 in Modesto.
Ahead by just one point at halftime, the Bulldogs’ lead ballooned to 18 in the third period.
“It was close early,” Walker said. “We broke it open in the second half.”
Adrian Ontiveros led Ceres High with 19 points.
Ricky Stanley collected 12 points.
AJ Brown tallied nine points.
Lebron Stallworth and Xzayvier Martinez both contributed five points.
Gurman Dhaliwal and Ezekiel Lopez each had two points.
Grace Davis challenged Ceres High during the rematch.
“They were a totally different team,” Walker said. “They played hard.”
The Bulldogs cruised to a 63-51 win over the Spartans on Jan. 18 at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.
Mountain House spoiled Ceres High’s Senior Night with a 74-31 victory on Feb. 8 at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.
The Mustangs topped the visiting Bulldogs 62-51 on Jan. 20.
“We would have loved to play better our last home game,” Walker said. “We got into foul trouble really quick. That changed the game. We played them tough the first time. We were up most of the game. We turned the ball over and they made a run.”
Ontiveros, Stanley, Stallworth, Manuel Gonzalez, Anas Kahloon, Tarrell Lee-Gill, Jacob Swanson, Zion Wesir and Brandon Williams suited up for the Bulldogs for the final time.
Stallworth, Ontiveros, Stanley and Lee-Gill started.
“We played everybody,” Walker said.
Stallworth scored a team-high 11 points.
Ontiveros and Stanley finished with 10 points apiece.
Martinez (unspecified reason) and Manuel Ortega (injury) did not play against Mountain House.
Ceres High could have used Ortega’s help on offense.
“Manuel’s a walking bucket,” Walker said. “He can score from all three levels.”
The Bulldogs compiled a 13-15 overall record and placed fifth in the Western Athletic Conference with a 7-7 mark this winter.
Lathrop, Mountain House, Los Banos and Beyer finished first, second, third and fourth, respectively, in the WAC standings.
Lathrop, Mountain House and Los Banos qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
“It’s on my shoulders,” Walker said while talking about his team’s struggles. “I couldn’t figure out how to get this to work. I might have put too much expectations on the group early instead of taking it one game at a time.”
Ceres High will lose nine players to graduation, including Ontiveros, Stanley, Stallworth, Gonzalez, Kahloon, Lee-Gill, Swanson, Wesir and Williams.
Stallworth, Ontiveros and Lee-Gill were three-year varsity players.
“They brought work ethic every day in practice,” Walker said. “That was big.”
“We’ll try to figure out what’s next,” he added. “I’m looking forward to the spring, summer and getting back to work. It’s going to be a whole new learning curve.”
Brown and Ortega will fill bigger roles on the team next season.
“Those are two guys that played a lot this year,” Walker said. “They’re only going to get better.”