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Hawks, Dawgs set to face off in boys hoops
Joshneil Sandhu and Ceres Highs varsity boys basketball team will play host to crosstown-rival Central Valley this Friday at 7:30 p.m. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Central Valley's and Ceres High's varsity boys basketball teams have both enjoyed successful starts to the Western Athletic Conference season.

The Hawks (4-0) and Bulldogs (3-1) have posted a combined record of 7-1 in league play.

First-place Central Valley will travel across town to face second-place Ceres High this Friday at 7:30 p.m.

"By no means are we underestimating Ceres High's abilities," Central Valley head coach Darryl Dickson said. "I watched a couple of their games. They're 3-1 for a reason. Their coach (Julio Marquez) has them playing really well. Our kids will be focused and ready. We're confident."

"The two teams are at the top of the standings," Marquez said. "We're competing for a league championship. That's great for Ceres. We're both playing good basketball."

Jaron Dickson, Daevon Brown and Parker Griffin will lead Central Valley.

Jaron has averaged 20.3 points per game in conference play.

Brown (14.0 ppg) and Griffin (11.0 ppg) rank second and third, respectively, in scoring.

Puneet Sahi, Joshneil Sandhu, Nick Burt and Austin Stiles will lead Ceres High. Puneet (17.5 ppg) ranks first on the team in scoring.

Burt, Sandhu and Stiles have averaged 10.3, 6.3 and 4.5 points per game, respectively, in league.

"Austin's a good all-round player," coach Dickson said. "He'll be a tough matchup for us."

The Hawks have collected wins against El Capitan (71-54), Patterson (50-46), Los Banos (50-39) and Pacheco (74-66) in WAC play.

The Bulldogs beat Patterson (48-47), Los Banos (52-46) and El Capitan (52-51).

Ceres High lost to Livingston (67-58).

"Everybody scouts everybody," Darryl Dickson said. "It's not going to be an easy game. We got to be ready to play. It's a regular-season game for us. That's how we'll approach it."

"It's a big rivalry," Marquez said. "It's going to be intense. They got a solid squad. We both have shooters that can get hot. It will be a good matchup. We just can't let them jump out early."

Central Valley and Ceres High placed second and fourth, respectively, in the WAC standings last year.

The top three teams in league qualified for playoffs.

The Hawks made history by securing their first-ever postseason berth.

"It's so early in league at this point," coach Dickson said. "We've both gotten off to good starts. You never know how this game is going to play out. That's the beauty of it."