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CHS lady cagers win crosstown clash
Dawgs earn Western Athletic Conference series sweep of Hawks
Chrystal Perales and Ceres Highs varsity girls basketball team edged Angelina Knights and Central Valley 50-46 in Western Athletic Conference play last week. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Central Valley's varsity girls basketball team stormed back from a double-digit deficit in the third quarter of last week's Western Athletic Conference season finale versus crosstown-rival Ceres High.

Senior Rosie Duarte banked in a shot from half court at the buzzer to give the Hawks a 36-35 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Unfazed, the Bulldogs dashed Central Valley's comeback bid with 50-46 home victory on Senior Night Thursday evening at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.

"It was definitely stressful knowing it could go either way," Ceres High first-year head coach Aimee Gunzenhauser said. "It came down to who wanted it more."

The Bulldogs posted a 5-18 overall record and placed third in the Western Athletic Conference (3-7).

"It was a rough season," Gunzenhauser said. "I'm proud of the way they played the last couple of weeks."

The Hawks went 3-18 and 2-8 (fourth place).

Ceres High beat Central Valley twice this season.

The Bulldogs erased a 12-point deficit while posting a 52-40 victory over the Hawks on Jan. 23.

Ceres High's Angelina Ursua set career-high marks in points scored (22) and 3-pointers made (5) during the second meeting.

Naciah Smith tallied 16 points in the fourth quarter.

Chrystal Perales, Camryn Silva and Harmen Bahia added seven, three and two points, respectively.

"I had a feeling she (Ursua) was going to have a really good game," Gunzenhauser said. "I've coached her since she was a freshman."

Ursua, Bahia, Andrea Duran and Savannah Zielke, Ceres High's four upperclassmen, were recognized prior to the start of their final contest.

"It meant a lot to the seniors to win this last game," Gunzenhauser said.

Elizabeth Robinson led the Hawks in scoring with 20 points.

Duarte collected 14 points.

Chetna Kumar and Sunaina Dhillon both contributed six points.

Robinson made three treys on her way to totaling 11 points in the third quarter.

Smith accounted for seven of Ceres High's 15 fourth-quarter points. Central Valley mustered just 10.

"They did a good job coming back," Ursua said. "We did what we had to do to win. We played together as a team. We united as one. It was a good night, overall."

Addeed Gunzenhauser: "I'm really proud they didn't give up. They kept working hard until the very last second."

The Bulldogs and Hawks faced off for the final time in WAC play.

Central Valley will join the Central California Conference next season as part of the Sac-Joaquin Section realignment plan.

"It's always fun beating your crosstown rival," Gunzenhauser said.