Friends since high school, Julio Marquez's and Brian de la Porte's respective varsity boys basketball teams faced off this past week at Ceres High.
The Marquez-coached Bulldogs dominated the de la Porte-led Patterson Tigers for three quarters before escaping with a 48-47 win Wednesday night.
"We beat a tough team today," Ceres High senior guard Puneet Sahi said. "It means a lot to us. We played our game. We ran our offense right. We got decent shots. We wanted to prove something."
Sahi led the Bulldogs with 15 points, four rebounds and one assist.
Puneet shot 6-for-11 from the field, including 2-for-4 from 3-point range.
Austin Stiles collected 11 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Stiles buried five of eight free throws.
Nick Burt scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Ramon Coral contributed four points and nine rebounds.
Joshneil Sandhu had five points.
Brad Bussard totaled four points.
Ceres High shot 52 percent from both the floor (25 of 48) and charity stripe (11 of 21).
Patterson's Kevin Phelps led all scorers with 18 points.
Damarrio Hammonds and Gary Bonney chipped in with seven points apiece.
Ceres High nearly squandered an 11-point lead in the final period thanks in large part to Phelps' dominant play on the offensive end.
Phelp had 12 points in the quarter.
Stiles gave Ceres High a 46-43 lead when he buried one of two foul shots with 1:29 remaining in the game.
Sahi's floater inside the key put the Bulldogs ahead by five points, 48-43, with 1:06 to play.
"I saw I had the lane," Puneet said. "I wasn't nervous at all. I'm glad I hit the shot."
Hammonds scored back-to-back baskets to cut the deficit to 48-47 with 18 seconds left in regulation.
A Ceres High turnover set up a do-or-die scenario for the Tigers in the waning seconds. Damarrio's potential game-winning shot from the right wing failed to draw iron as time expired.
"We wanted the ball inside to our big man (Phelps)," de la Porte said. "We didn't execute and Ceres played good defense."
Ceres High did just about everything right on its way to building a 17-6 lead in the first quarter.
Sahi scored seven points.
Stiles and Sandhu netted three points each.
Coral had two points.
Sahi watched from the bench during the waning seconds of the game.
"I was hoping he wasn't going to make it," Sahi said.
Ceres High improved to 3-1 Western Athletic Conference.
Patterson dropped to 2-2 in the WAC standings.
The Bulldogs extended their unbeaten streak to three games.
"Any win is big for us right now," Sahi said.
"We missed a lot of layups and free throws," said de la Porte, whose team dropped to 9-9 on the year. "We didn't box out. We gave them a lot of opportunities. That's been the story of our season. Give Ceres credit. They came out and played hard. They earned it."
Patterson beat Ceres High twice in league play last season.
"Honestly, it's just a league game we're trying to win," de la Porte said. "It doesn't matter if it's Ceres, Livingston or Los Banos. They're all important."