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CHS girls battling for postseason berth
• Dawgs earn 15th victory
Jose Garcia
Jose Garcia (19) helped Ceres High’s varsity boys soccer team secure a playoff berth last week. - photo by Dale Butler

Ceres High’s varsity girls basketball team had its hands full while competing against upset-minded Grace Davis last week.

The Spartans put up a fight for three-plus quarters before losing 47-39 to the Bulldogs Friday evening at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.

Grace Davis led by as much as 10 points during the first half.

“It was early in the game,” said Mike Estrada Jr., Ceres High’s second-year head coach. “I had no concerns. I knew when our energy level picked up, we’d be able to win it.”

The Bulldogs improved to 15-11 overall and into a two-way tie for second place in the Western Athletic Conference standings (8-4) with Mountain House.

The last-place Spartans dropped to 2-15 and 1-11.

Ceres High had just eight wins a season ago.

“The expectations we set are really high,” Estrada stated. “It’s exciting to have a quick turnaround because a lot of people said it was going to take some time. Being close as a team helps with their play on the court. They all like each other.”

“Coach has confidence in us,” senior Mya Robinson said. “We all have a close bond, even off the court. We’re really like a family.”

Robinson collected six points, six rebounds, five steals and one assist versus Grace Davis.

Sophomore Celeste Leon had 13 points, six steals and four rebounds.

Catryna Marquez had eight points, nine steals, six rebounds and four assists.

Lysaida Munoz had seven points, six rebounds and two steals.

Freshman Thanya Gonzalez had five points, 10 rebounds, three steals and one assist.

Sophomore Mia Rodriguez had three points.

Melannie Gonzalez had two points and one steal.

Gurmenjit Bahia had one rebound.

Robinson was the catalyst for a momentum-seizing 8-0 run in the final period.

Ahead by just one point, Robinson converted a layup and hit a jumper from the right wing to give the Bulldogs a 35-30 lead with 2:42 to play.

Leon scored four straight points to increase Ceres High’s lead to 39-30 at the 1:59 mark.

Robinson did not play last season due to health concerns.

“I couldn’t get my asthma under control,” Robinson said. “This year, I decided to give it another shot. It’s my senior year.”

“She’s been big for us all season,” Estrada said. 

Down 13-3 early in the game, Ceres High never flinched.

The Bulldogs chipped away at the lead before dashing the Spartans’ bid for an upset.

Ceres High outscored Grace Davis 21-14 during the fourth quarter.

“We played to our full potential,” Robinson said.

Robinson and fellow senior Bahia were both recognized prior to tip-off.

“It’s very sad knowing this is my last time playing on this court,” Robinson said.


Central Valley’s varsity boys basketball team lost 57-56 in overtime to Patterson on Jan. 15 in Ceres.

The second meeting was competitive for three quarters.

The Tigers outscored the Hawks 19-7 in the final eight minutes en route to pulling away for a 61-49 home victory on Feb. 5.

The game was tied at 42-all heading into the final period.

“The pace of the game slowed down and we got stagnant on the offensive end,” Central Valley head coach Mike Rodriguez said. “We didn’t create enough turnovers on the defensive side. If you don’t get stops, you can’t get out and run.”

Last-place Central Valley dropped to 5-21 overall and 1-9 in the Central California Conference standings.

Third-place Patterson improved to 9-16 and 5-5.

“We’re competitive but we’re not getting the wins,” Rodriguez said. “The guys got to take the next step and put the time in during the offseason. That’s what it’s going to take to get wins in this league.”

“I’m pretty surprised (by the lack of success),” Manor stated. “I thought we’d be prepared for league because we played way better teams in the preseason. We’re not getting blown out. Everyone is trying. Everyone just needs to be on the same page.”

Manor scored a team-high 14 points against Patterson.

Sunny Khabra added 11 points.

Jordan Lombardo, Andy Souksavath and Angel Zamarripa all finished with five points apiece.

Yoshi Kumar had four points.

Rajeev Saini and Xavier Valencia both had two points.

Jacob Ingraham had one point.

Central Valley will host Buhach Colony today and play at El Capitan on Friday.

Both games will begin at 7:15 p.m.


Central Valley’s varsity boys soccer program opened the 2019-20 season with back-to-back losses.

This past week, the 2018-19 Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II finalist Hawks inched closer to winning their second consecutive Central California Conference championship.

“It’s the expectation when you put on this jersey,” senior goalkeeper Erick Martinez-Stucchi said.

Central Valley remained atop the CCC after besting Golden Valley and Buhach Colony in a three-day span.

The Hawks improved to 16-3-3 overall and 8-1-2 in league play.

Central Valley had a four-point lead over second-place Patterson as of Monday.

“We had to win both games to be in the position we’re currently in,” head coach Omar Leon said. “We don’t have to depend on anybody else. It’s up to us. We just need to win our final game because Patterson can still earn six points.”

Central Valley edged Golden Valley 2-1 at Veterans Stadium on Feb. 4.

Alexis Jimenez scored the winning goal from 6 yards out off a pass from Marcos Covarrubias with less than five minutes to play.

“It was a really competitive game, very similar to the last one,” Martinez-Stucchi said.

The two teams battled to a 1-1 tie in the opening half during the second meeting.

Jesus Yepez accounted for the Hawks’ first-half goal.

Isaac Juarez delivered the pass.

Martinez-Stucchi had four saves.

Central Valley and Golden Valley tied 1-1 on Jan. 10.

Central Valley routed Buhach Colony 5-0 on Senior Night in front of a large crowd last Thursday in Ceres.

“Overall, it was an A-plus night,” Martinez-Stucchi said. “There were a lot of people there. We really appreciate everyone coming out. It was nice to be recognized. We got the win, which is the most important thing.”

Alex Bautista led the Hawks in scoring with two goals.

Sebastian Castillo collected one goal and one assist.

Juarez and Agustin Gutierrez both had one goal.

Joel Arellano had one assist.

Martinez-Stucchi made one save.

Central Valley led 2-0 at intermission.

“We didn’t play our best in the first half,” Martinez-Stucchi said. “It was a slow start.”

Central Valley will close out the CCC season against host El Capitan this week.

The Gauchos won the first meeting, 3-2.

The Hawks didn’t compete at full-strength.

The game was rescheduled due to bad weather and Martinez-Stucchi had to work.

“If we take care of business against El Capitan, we take home a second straight (CCC) title,” Martinez-Stucchi said. “That’s a big deal.”

“We need to play a complete game, be alert on defense and finish what we create,” Leon added.

Bulldogs, 3, Tigers 1

Ceres High’s varsity boys soccer team climbed to third place in the Western Athletic Conference standings and secured a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth last week.

The Bulldogs improved to 6-2-4 in the WAC after rallying for a 3-1 win over host Los Banos on Friday.

The Tigers (6-4-2) dropped to fourth place in league.

Ceres High had a two-point lead over Los Banos in the conference standings as of Sunday.

The top four teams in the WAC qualify for the playoffs at the end of the regular season.

Danny Barragan filled in for Ceres High head coach Gilbert Zamora, who missed the game for a work-related reason.

“I’m happy for them,” said Barragan, who led the Bulldogs to the Division-III crown last winter before being assigned to coach Ceres High’s girls team this season. “I knew they could get to playoffs. The talent is there. I talked with them about having the right mindset. People make errors. You learn from it.”

Ceres High’s Antonio Medina scored twice against Los Banos.

Hugo Mercado had one goal.

Freshman Oscar Mercado totaled seven saves at goalkeeper.

The Bulldogs trailed 1-0 at halftime.

“I wasn’t worried,” Barragan said. “We were playing well. We just couldn’t score. I told them to stay patient. We didn’t chance our style of play.”

Ceres High outscored Los Banos 3-0 during the second half.

Hugo Mercado evened the score at 1-1 when he finished from 30 yards away.

“They gave him space,” Barragan said.

Medina’s penalty kick, his second goal, put the game out of reach.