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CHS girls hoops squad to compete under new coaching staff
Nicole Bates will try to help lead Ceres Highs varsity girls basketball team to its second straight playoff berth. Bates, a sophomore point guard, led the Bulldogs in scoring last season. She was selected to the Western Athletic Conference First Team. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Ceres High's varsity girls basketball team will compete under the direction of a new head coach during the 2013-14 campaign.

Heather Jones has been named interim leader of the Bulldogs.

The 2007 Ceres High grad replaces Vanessa Morris, who decided to take the year off to complete her education.

"I'm really looking forward to the season," said Heather, who's working towards her teacher's credential at Cal State Stanislaus. "I moved all of my classes to nights so I could coach."

Kristen McClure (class of 2007) will assist Jones.

Heather and Kristen were members of Ceres High's 2004-05 Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II championship squad (24-8, 12-3).

Jones and McClure coached Ceres High's freshman girls hoops squad last winter. The Bulldogs won the WAC title outright with a perfect 12-0 record and finished 20-1 on the year.

"We work so well together," Jones said. "Whenever we're together, we talk basketball. We're so excited for this opportunity. It's going to be fun."

Led by freshman point guard Nicole Bates, Ceres High's varsity program returned to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs following a three-year absence, posted an 11-9 overall record and finished third in the Western Athletic Conference (7-5) under Morris' guidance last season. Bates averaged a team-leading 15 points per game. She was selected to the WAC First Team.

The Bulldogs bring back four players from a year ago, including Bates (So.), Edith Peralta (Sr.), Alyssa Sanchez (Sr.) and Kyndal Chapman (Jr.), Perla Vargas (Jr.), Karina Ceja (Jr.), Kinsey Ward (Jr.), Cameron Diaz (Jr.), Nichole Parker (Jr.), Cynthia Sanchez (Jr.), Jessica Arreola (So.) and Triana Burgess (So.) are newcomers.

Vargas, Ceja, Ward, Diaz, Parker and Sanchez contributed at the frosh-soph level during the 2012-13 school year.

Arreola and Burgess suited up for the Bulldogs' frosh squad.

"This is a new team with new coaches and players," McClure said. "It's going to take some time for us to jell. We'll get better."

Jones earned 12 varsity letters during her athletic career with the Bulldogs, including four in basketball, track and field and cross country. She averaged 16.3 points and three steals per game while propelling Ceres High to an 18-9 overall record and Division-II postseason appearance her senior year. She made a team-high 35 3-pointers.

"Ceres High has always been known for basketball," Jones said. "I really want to build this program back up."