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CHS girls hoops coach Morris off a year to focus on schooling
Assistant Tate will fill her shoes
Ross Tate will coach Ceres Highs varsity girls basketball team during the 2013-14 season. Vanessa Morris will take the year off to complete her education. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Vanessa Morris, head coach of Ceres High School's varsity girls basketball team, will be absent from the sidelines during the 2013-14 campaign.

"Sometimes, you have to make decisions that aren't easy," Morris said. "In the long run, I'll be able to give them 150 percent. It wasn't fair to them last season. I'm taking the year off to finish my credential. Then I'll just have to worry about teaching and coaching."

Ross, a 2007 Ceres High grad, will serve as temporary leader of the Bulldogs.

"The kids respect and like him," Morris said. "He's an ex-athlete. He's competitive. I trust him completely. He'll do a great job. He learned from (former Ceres High athletic director/basketball coach) Phil de la Porte."

Tate was an assistant on Morris' coaching staff last season.

"He knows how to work hard," Morris said. "He'll bring that to the kids."

"It's just one year," Tate said. "We want to keep everything familiar for the girls. I'm going to be an extension of Vanessa. "I know she's going to be there if I have any questions."

Ceres High experienced a major turnaround during Morris' second year at the helm in 2012-13.

The Bulldogs qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the first time in three years, placed third in the Western Athletic Conference (7-5) and posted an 11-9 overall record. Ceres High finished 9-15 on the season and fourth in the WAC (4-8) in 2012.

"We'll be undersized but fast," Tate said.

Vanessa will be relegated to fan at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium this winter.

"I'll go to games," Morris said. "But I won't sit on the sidelines. The kids are going to be in good hands."

"I'm ready," Ross said. "I've grown up in the program. I'm very competitive just like she (Vanessa) is."

Tate earned 10 varsity letters during his athletic career at Ceres High, including four in track and field and basketball, and two in football.

A standout high jumper, Ross qualified for the CIF State Meet and won the Modesto Metro Conference title as a junior. He claimed Sac-Joaquin Section Division III and Valley Oak League crowns in 2007. The Bulldogs won MMC titles in 2006 and 2005.

Tate was a four-year starter in basketball. He averaged 8.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game in leading the Bulldogs to a 21-7 overall record, third-place tie in the VOL standings (10-4) and second straight postseason appearance his senior year. He earned honorable-mention and all-defense accolades. Ross shot 40 percent from 3-point range.

Tate started at quarterback and safety for two years. He earned second-team, all-league honors on defense twice.
Ross had 54 tackles and one interception during his final season with Ceres High, which placed fifth in the VOL (3-4). He totaled 725 yards and eight touchdowns on offense. He ran for 319 yards and six touchdowns on 90 carries. He passed for 406 yards and two scores.

Tate tallied 24 tackles during his first year at the varsity level. He amassed 939 yards and 10 touchdowns at quarterback.

Ross earned a partial scholarship to Division-I UC Davis for track and field.