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Coral, Bussard return to hardcourt
Ramon Coral will log playing time at center with Ceres Highs varsity boys basketball team. Coral sat out last year to prepare for the 2014 football season. - photo by DALE BUTLER/Courier photo

Ceres High School's boys basketball program tipped off the 2014-15 campaign with a 63-50 loss to visiting Enochs in non-conference play on Nov. 28 at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.

Varsity newcomers Brad Bussard and Ramon Coral logged playing time at guard and center, respectively.

Brad and Ramon tallied five and four points, respectively, in defeat.

"Both of us wanted to play this year," said Coral, a 6-foot-4 260-pound senior. "We missed it. We didn't try out last season. We worked out for football."

"It's my senior year," 6-foot-tall 170-pound Bussard said. "I didn't want to look back and regret not playing. I thought I could help the team out."

Ramon and Brad last played organized basketball at the junior-varsity level for Ceres High during the 2012-13 school year.

Coral and Bussard filled key roles while leading the JV Bulldogs to a 20-6 overall record and second-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference standings (10-2). Coral and Bussard scored 11 and nine points apiece during Ceres High's 64-47 win over crosstown-rival Central Valley on Feb. 8, 2013.

"I'm happy to be back," Coral said. "It's fun out there. I need to work on my footwork."

Ramon starts at center.

Brad is a backup guard.

Coral replaces Harman Chung, Ceres High's top scorer and a WAC Second-Team pick last year.

Chung averaged 13.8 points and 12.0 rebounds per game.

"I'm not really putting any pressure on Ramon," Bulldogs head coach Julio Marquez said. "He gives us a defensive presence in the middle. His size will free up our guards. Brad comes off the bench. He plays good defense and knows how to run the offense. They're getting better."

"I have to work hard to get back to where I want to be," Brad said. "Right now, I'm coming off the bench. I'm working my way up."

Bussard and Coral took last season off to focus on football.

Brad started at quarterback for the second year in a row this past fall.

Ramon started on the offensive and defensive lines.

Coral earned second-team all-league honors.

Ramon totaled 28 tackles and 21/2 sacks.

Bussard was an honorable-mention pick.

Brad ranked third in passing yards (877) and fourth in touchdowns (8) in the WAC.

Ceres High (3-7, 2-4) topped crosstown-rival Central Valley (5-5, 2-4) for the first time since 2006.

Bussard, Coral and the Bulldogs eliminated the Hawks from playoff consideration with a 24-7 victory during the final day of the regular season.

Brad passed for 186 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Ramon chipped in with six tackles, half a sack, one forced fumble and two pass deflections.

Bussard and Coral also teamed up in baseball last spring. Ceres High made history by winning its first conference title since 1991. The Bulldogs (23-7, 11-1) shared the WAC title with eight-time champion Central Catholic. Ceres High also secured its fourth consecutive postseason berth.

Bussard was selected to the WAC First Team.

Brad compiled a 4-0 record with a conference-leading 0.52 ERA, to go along with 23 strikeouts at pitcher.

He batted .244 with two doubles, nine RBIs, nine runs and one stolen base and a .950 fielding percentage.

Coral, an outfielder, scored once and walked twice in 10 games.

Ceres High's boys hoops squad will look to return to the playoffs this winter following a year absence.

The top three teams in the WAC qualify for the postseason.

"We're both going to contribute a good amount this season," Bussard said. "We'll give the team more depth."

Buddies off the court and field, Bussard and Coral will look to generate more positive memories.

"He's over my house all the time," Brad said. "We're really good friends."