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CHS girls hoops parts ways with Estrada
Michael Estrada Jr
Michael Estrada Jr. led Ceres High’s girls basketball team to two winning seasons during his four-year stint as heaad coach. - photo by DALE BUTLER/ Courier file photo

Michael Estrada Jr. will not return as head coach of Ceres High School’s girls basketball program this winter.

Estrada had a 34-53 record and two winning seasons in his four years with the Bulldogs.

“I’d love to still coach there,” he said. “The school decided to not bring me back. I thought we were headed in the right direction. I can take this experience into whatever I do next.  I’ll definitely watch a game or two next year.”

“He was definitely super committed,” said Celeste Leon, who played for Estrada for four seasons. “It was never in question. He was very knowledgeable of the game and knew had to win. He definitely wanted the best for us. He always pushed us hard at practice. He was always very prepared.”

Ceres High enjoyed its most successful season since 2012-13 during Estrada’s second year coaching.

The 2019-20 Bulldogs amassed a 15-13 overall record and placed fourth in the Western Athletic Conference standings (8-6).

Ceres High snapped its streak of six straight losing seasons. The Bulldogs came agonizingly close to ending years of playoff futility. Ceres High dropped out of postseason contention after losing back-to-back games to Los Banos.

Shorthanded Ceres High posted a 7-20 overall record and finished sixth in the WAC (4-10) this past winter. 

The Bulldogs competed in the WAC South Division for coronavirus-safety reasons during the 2020-21 campaign. Limited to just seven games, Ceres High compiled a 4-3 and took second in league play (4-2).

A total of five games were canceled after Bulldog players came in close contact with an infected person during a conference contest.

Playoffs were postponed for all sports during the 2020-21 school year because of a late start to the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It sucks we weren’t able to show our team’s full potential because of the shortened season,” Estrada said. “I 100 percent believe we would have made the playoffs.”

Ceres High finished 8-17 and sixth in the WAC (4-10) during Estrada’s first season.

Ceres High had six different head coaches prior to Estrada’s arrival, including Aimee Gunzenhauser, Chad Hammond, Mike Turpin, Kristen McClure, Heather Jones and Vanessa Morris.

The Bulldogs secured their last playoff berth under Morris’ guidance in 2012-13. Ceres High finished 10-8 and took third in the WAC (6-4).

Under Shawna Nunes’ leadership from 1993-2011, the Bulldogs amassed a 365-142 record, captured one section championship, claimed six league titles, secured 15 playoff berths, won at least 20 games 10 times and surpassed the 30-win mark twice.

Megan McGill, leader of the Bulldogs’ junior-varsity girls team this past season and an English teacher at the high school, was named Estrada’s successor.

McGill will be Ceres High’s eighth head coach in the past 11 years.

“I loved coaching there the last four years,” Estrada said. “The second and third year, we had winning records. I helped turn us into a somewhat winning program.”