The Ceres High varsity boys basketball team's confidence didn't take a hit despite its 0-2 showing at the Dec. 14-16 Ceres Holiday Classic.
The Bulldogs dropped a pair of non-conference contests by a combined 11 points.
"We learned a lot from those games and will come back stronger," senior shooting guard/small forward Inder Sandhu said. "We need to take care of the ball and execute on the offensive and defensive ends better."
Ceres High lost 55-49 to Gregori on Dec. 16 at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.
Sandhu paced the Bulldogs with 21 points, two rebounds and two steals.
Christian Murry added 10 points, two steals and one rebound.
Sophomore Dalton Durossette had eight points and five rebounds.
Sophomore Joshua Pernetti had four points and two rebounds.
Freshman Derrick O'Neal had three points, three rebounds and two assists.
"We started off strong," Sandhu said. "We were leading at halftime. They ended up coming back with their defense and pulled it out. It was a tough loss."
Pioneer of Woodland edged Ceres High 61-56 in overtime on Dec. 15.
Sandhu collected 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Durossette tallied 17 points, seven rebounds one assist.
Junior Elijah Hughes contributed 13 points and nine rebounds.
Murry had seven points, two rebounds and one assist.
O'Neal added three assists and two rebounds.
Pioneer forced OT with a 3-pointer.
"It was a competitive game," Inder said. "It shouldn't have gone to overtime. We should have won (in regulation). We didn't execute our plays well enough. It was a tough loss. We learned from it and played better the next night."
Ceres High dropped to 3-5 on the year.
The Bulldogs have a youth-laden roster.
Three of five starters were lost to graduation, excluding Sandhu.
"We have a good lineup and bench," Inder said. "We all have our strengths. It's definitely going to take some time to learn how to play together because we have a young team. Our chemistry is building."
Sandhu has enjoyed playing basketball for first-year head coach T.J. Walker.
"It hasn't been that tough of a transition," he said. "He instills confidence in us. He guides us in the right direction."
Ceres High (4-5) will compete at the Brookside Christian Tournament, Dec. 28-30, in Stockton.
The Bulldogs' final two preseason opponents are Enochs (Jan. 5) and Oakdale (Jan. 8).
"We definitely want to get some wins," Sandhu said. "We're on our way to where we want to be as a team. We want to be playoff contenders and go deep into playoffs."