In today's Courier, we present Part 2 of the best of 2015 list.
1. Ceres High's varsity boys tennis program made history by winning its first-ever section title. The Bulldogs edged Manteca 5-4 for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III crown. Ceres High compiled a perfect 27-0 overall record, claimed its fourth consecutive WAC championship (third in a row with a perfect 12-0 record) and participated in the playoffs for the sixth year in a row.
2. Ceres High's varsity girls soccer team enjoyed its most successful season since the 1990s. The Bulldogs (10-4-2, 9-1-2 WAC) captured their first-ever conference title and participated in the playoffs for just the second time in program history.
3. Central Valley's varsity boys basketball team had a banner year. The Hawks won their first-ever conference title, qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the second year in a row and reeled off 15 straight wins. Central Valley compiled a program-best 22-4 overall record and finished first in the Western Athletic Conference standings (12-0).
4. Central Valley's varsity wrestling team accomplished a first last winter by capturing the Western Athletic Conference overall title. The Hawks finished first at the WAC Championships and won all six of their conference dual meets. Central Valley advanced to team section duals for the third time in five years. The Hawks placed fifth overall at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV tournament.
5. Ceres High's varsity softball team tied for fifth place with a 2-2 record at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoff tournament. The Bulldogs had a 22-9 overall mark and won 10 of 12 games on their way to claiming their second consecutive Western Athletic Conference crown.
6. Ceres High's varsity baseball team advanced to the semi-final round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV playoffs. The Bulldogs made history by advancing past the first round, ending a 25-year drought. Ceres High compiled an impressive 23-7 overall record and also won its second straight Western Athletic Conference crown (11-1).
7. Central Valley's varsity football team posted a program-best 7-4 overall record and finished second in the Western Athletic Conference standings (5-1). The Hawks also secured their second-ever Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth.
8. Central Valley's varsity volleyball squad compiled a program-best 15-4 overall record and beat four-time defending Western Athletic Conference-champion Los Banos twice on its way to finishing second in the league standings (10-3). The Hawks advanced to the postseason for the second year in a row.
9. Central Valley's varsity girls tennis team reached new heights over the past two seasons. The Hawks made history by securing their first-ever playoff berth in 2014. Central Valley returned to the postseason this year. The Hawks posted a combined record of 20-4 while finishing in second place twice in the Western Athletic Conference.
10. Central Valley's varsity girls basketball team reached both of its goals. The Hawks finished in the top three in the Western Athletic Conference and qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs. Central Valley compiled an 18-8 overall record and placed second in the WAC standings (10-2).
Most Memorable Contests
1. Ceres High's varsity boys tennis team topped Manteca 5-4 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III finals. The Bulldogs secured the title when Dennis Phommalinh and Manny Jimenez rallied for a 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Yok Ehy Ma and Si Hao Tang in No. 1 doubles play.
2. Central Valley's varsity football team topped 2014 Western Athletic Conference-champion Los Banos 42-21 at home. The Hawks outscored the Tigers 28-7 in the opening half. Scott Edwards, Central Valley's second-year head coach, got doused with water after the playoff-berth clinching victory.
3. Ceres High's varsity girls soccer team captured its first-ever conference title with a 2-0 win over visiting Livingston. The Bulldogs avenged a 1-0 loss. Miranda Wilds and Dominique Koeurn scored goals in the second and 10th minutes, respectively.
4. Ceres High's varsity boys soccer team upset third-place Pacheco 2-1 on the road. The victory helped the Bulldogs secure the Western Athletic Conference's fourth and final playoff berth. The Bulldogs lost 3-0 to the Panthers earlier in the year.
5. Central Valley's and Los Banos' varsity volleyball teams compiled identical 9-3 records while tying for second place during the Western Athletic Conference regular season. The Hawks and Tigers played a tiebreaker game to determine the WAC's No. 2 and 3 seeds for Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. Central Valley overcame a sluggish start on its way to posting a 3-1 (17-25, 25-11, 25-18, 25-16) victory over visiting Los Banos in front of a large crowd. The Hawks compiled a 2-1 record versus the four-time defending WAC-champion Tigers.
Other Notable Stories
1. The sale of River Oaks Golf Course in Ceres was finalized on Aug. 20. Former Ceres High/Cal State Stanislaus golf star Ryan Thornberry is one of the new owners along with several family members. A golf standout for most of his life, Ryan learned how to play the sport at River Oaks. Ryan was a four-time, All-American at Cal State Stanislaus. He won seven NCAA events, including the NCAA Division-II West Regional. Thornberry, a 2002 Ceres High graduate, helped lead the Bulldogs varsity boys golf team to a perfect 18-0 record in the Central California Conference regular-season standings during his senior year. Ryan was named the CCC's Most Valuable Player three times.
2. Ryan Norton, a 2011 Ceres High grad, had a memorable four-year career with the Simpson University softball team. She batted leadoff, played in center field and was a team captain during her finals season as the Red Hawks amassed a 36-17 overall record and captured their fourth straight California Pacific Conference crown (13-3). In 49 games, Ryan hit .388 with three homers, three triples, 15 doubles, 37 runs, 32 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. She ranked first on the team in hits (69), triples and doubles, second in runs and stolen bases, and third in homers and RBIs. Norton was selected to the Cal-Pac's All-Conference Team. Norton ranks first on Simpson University's all-time hits list with 198. Ryan's softball career spanned 14 years. She took up the sport at the age of eight.
3. Twin brothers Brad and Brent Bussard planned to attend Washington State and Central Washington, respectively, this fall. That's before the 2015 Ceres High graduates caught the attention of a coach from Holy Names University this past spring during their final season with the Bulldogs' varsity baseball program. Brad and Brent both earned partial scholarships to the NCAA Division-II college. Located in Oakland, Holy Names has a cost of attendance of $46,000 per year.
4. Brian de la Porte, a 1999 Ceres High grad, was named head coach of Delhi High School's varsity boys basketball team in August. He made the announcement on Twitter. Brian stepped down as the leader of Patterson's program following the 2014-15 season. The Tigers amassed a 31-25 record and secured back-to-back playoff berths during de la Porte's two-year stint. Brian coached boys hoops at his alma mater for 13 seasons (2000-13). Ceres High had a 61-72 overall record, advanced to the postseason twice and won one Western Athletic Conference title in Brian's five seasons at the varsity level.
5. Central Valley's varsity boys soccer team had its streak of consecutive playoff appearances snapped at eight seasons. The crosstown-rival Bulldogs of Ceres High edged out the Hawks for the Western Athletic Conference's fourth and final postseason berth. Central Valley won six straight conference titles from 2008-13. The Hawks finished second in the section playoffs in 2013, 2012, 2010 and 2009.