Ceres High School's varsity girls basketball team had to settle for a split in Western Athletic Conference play last week.
The Bulldogs moved to 4-7 overall and 1-2 in the Western Athletic Conference standings following Thursday's 51-42 win over host Los Banos.
"This should boost their confidence a little bit," Ceres High head coach Kristen McClure said. "We should be 3-0 (in WAC play). Our past couple of games have been super close. We're getting better."
Tied at 33-all, the Bulldogs outscored the Tigers 18-9 in the final period. Ceres High standout Nicole Bates tallied 12 of her game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter.
"She played awesome," McClure said. "Everybody played hard and together."
Karina Ceja and Perla Vargas added seven and six points, respectively.
Jessica Arreola and Ariel Knights both contributed four points.
Jade Moore and Jasmine Moore each had two points.
Ceres High won despite shooting 40 percent (6 of 15) from the free-throw line.
"We got our first league win," McClure said. "The girls really wanted it. We're a different team this year. We have more scorers."
Newcomer El Capitan picked up its first league win in program history by edging out Ceres High 49-46 on Jan. 6 at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.
"I actually really didn't think about that," McClure said. "It doesn't matter who we're playing. I just want my girls to play hard and together."
Bates scored 10 of her team-high 19 points in the final quarter.
Knights, Vargas, Arreola and Ceja totaled seven, six, five and three points, respectively.
Jade Moore, Jasmine Moore and Allyson Hailey tallied two points each.
The Bulldogs failed to get off a potential, game-tying shot in the waning seconds.
"We had a play set up for Nicole at the end," McClure said. "The right person didn't get the ball. There was some miscommunication. Time ran out. It was a competitive game."
Ceres High trailed 24-23 at intermission. The Gauchos outscored the Bulldogs 25-23 in the second half.
Ceres High's struggles from the foul line proved costly. The Bulldogs shot 60 percent from the charity stripe.
"We work on free throws every day at practice," McClure said. "We shoot 50 each."