Ceres High's and Patterson's varsity boys basketball teams are both expected to contend for the 2017 Western Athletic Conference title.
The Bulldogs and Tigers faced off for the first time this season last week.
Ceres High shocked just about everyone in attendance by racing out to a 21-point lead in the opening eight minutes and escaped with a 56-54 victory against visiting Patterson Wednesday evening at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.
"I'm not surprised," Bulldogs senior guard Haaydn Martinez said while talking about the quality of play both teams exhibited during portions of the game. "We're the top two teams in league."
Martinez buried five treys and totaled 21 points to lead Ceres High (11-8, 3-0 WAC).
He also had four rebounds, four assists and two steals.
More importantly, Haaydn dashed Patterson's comeback bid by making two free throws with one second left in regulation.
"I live for those clutch moments," Martinez said.
Bulldog teammate Inder Sandhu added nine points.
Ismael Ontiveros, Cristian Garcia, Marcellus Boykins and Donnavin Koeurn had eight, six, five and three points, respectively.
Nick Jones and Gurraj Purewal both tallied two points.
Patterson clawed its way back from deficits of eight and seven points in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers closed the game on a 7-2 run.
Patterson made a 3-pointer from the right baseline to even the score at 54-all with 28 seconds left in regulation.
The game appeared headed for overtime before Martinez played the role of hero.
Haaydn, who totaled eight points in the final period, drew a foul on a shot attempt from the left baseline.
He calmly sank both free throws.
"I drove past the guy, put up the shot and luckily I got fouled," Martinez said. "Sometimes I come into the gym in the mornings to work on game-like situations."
The Bulldogs outscored the Tigers 22-1 in the first period.
Koeurn banked in a half-court shot off a steal at the buzzer.
"It's the best quarter we've ever played against Patterson," Martinez said. "We found the holes in their defense and kept attacking."
Patterson outscored Ceres High 35-21 in the middle periods.
The Tigers trailed 43-36 at the end of the third quarter.
Patterson rallied on the strength of its pressure defense.
"If we lost, all that work we put in in the first quarter would have been all for nothing," Martinez said.
The Tigers failed to get off a potential tying or winning shot at the end of the game.
The buzzer sounded as Jones knocked Patterson's full-court pass out of harm's way.
"It's a nervous situation," Martinez said. "But I never had any doubt in my mind. We played lock-down defense. We were looking to make a statement (tonight). We really want to win the WAC title this year and we're going to do whatever it takes to achieve that."
The rematch will take place on Feb. 1.
The Bulldogs will travel to Patterson to face the Tigers.
"It's going to be a high-intense game just like this one," Martinez said.
Ceres High topped visiting Livingston 87-78 on Friday.
Martinez poured in a game-high 31 points.
Sandhu, Garcia, Purewal, Ontiveros, Koeurn and Boykins collected 25, 12, nine, four, three and two points, respectively.
Jones had one point.
The Bulldogs outscored the Wolves 20-6 in the second quarter on their way to building a 40-21 lead in the opening half.
Ceres High will play twice on the road this week.
The Bulldogs will compete against Pacheco today and crosstown-rival Central Valley on Friday.
Both games will get underway at 7:30 p.m.