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CHS girls hoops team will compete under new coach Kristen McClure
Former Ceres High varsity girls basketball standout Kristen McClure will coach the Bulldogs this season. McClure was an assistant on interim leader Heather Jones staff during the 2013-14 school year. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Kristen McClure has been promoted to head coach of Ceres High School's varsity girls basketball program.

The former Bulldog hoops/track and field standout was an assistant on interim leader Heather Jones' staff a season ago.

McClure also helped coach Ceres High's 19-0 and Western Athletic Conference champion frosh girls basketball squad last year.

"It's a great opportunity," Kristen said. "I couldn't turn it down. I've been a part of the program since I graduated. I'm really glad she (current Bulldog athletic director/former varsity girls basketball head coach Shawna Nunes) trusted me to take over the program. She's always giving me advice. I've learned a lot from her. I'm glad she's still here to help me out. I want to stay longer than a year."

McClure takes over a program that last participated in the playoffs under Vanessa Morris' guidance in 2012-13.

Ceres High's roster consists of a mix of veterans and newbies.

Nicole Bates (Jr.), Jessica Arreola (Jr.), Perla Vargas (Sr.), Karina Ceja (Sr.), Kinsey Ward (Sr.) and Cameron Diaz (Sr.) are returnees.

Allyson Hailey (Jr.), Ariel Knights (Jr.), Adryana Knights (Jr.), Jade Moore (Jr.), Jasmine Moore (Jr.) and Kadie Brenning (Jr.) are first-year varsity players. They contributed at the JV level last season.

"It's a new team," McClure said. "We need to blend more together."

Nicole and Jessica were named team captains.

Bates was selected to the Western Athletic Conference Second Team as a sophomore.

She led the Bulldogs in scoring for the second year in a row. Nicole averaged 13.1 points per game. She buried a wide-open jumper from the free-throw line at the buzzer to lift Ceres High to a 48-47 win over Central Valley on Jan. 23.

Vargas was an honorable-mention pick.

Perla scored 12 points in the Bulldogs' victory against the Hawks.

She tallied 13 points as Ceres High posted a 45-31 win over Livingston.
"Jessica's gotten better every single year," McClure said. "She always gives 110 percent. I can always count on Nicole. She's such a hard worker. She's a great athlete."

Ceres High (5-7) tied for third place in the WAC standings with crosstown-rival Central Valley last season.

The Bulldogs won five of their final seven games following an 0-5 start.

"I really do think we'll be better than last year," McClure said. "The girls are smart. They know the plays. We'll be a strong team."