Ceres High School's junior-varsity boys basketball team battled adversity at different points of the season.
"Given the circumstances, I'm extremely happy with how the season went," Bulldogs head coach Lance Hunter said. "There were some growing pains, initially. We learned and developed."
Ceres High had just nine players in uniform during its season-ending 51-31 rout of host Pacheco on Feb. 16 in Los Banos, excluding Cristian Palafox (knee injury), Inder Sandhu (illness) and Jesus Mejia (illness).
"We finished the year strong with a 20-point win on the road," Hunter said.
Austin Schmidt led the Bulldogs in scoring this past week with a career-high 15 points.
Vincent Guerrero tallied a career-best 11 points off the bench.
Gurraj Purewal and Adrian Magdaleno both totaled eight points.
Monte Wallace, Donnavin Koeurn and Manpreet Singh had four, three and two points, respectively.
"Austin shot the ball really well," Hunter said. "He played with a lot of confidence. He had fun. Vincent had a pretty big game. He's been working on his post moves at practice. He's a great hustle player."
The Bulldogs managed to build a 24-12 lead in the opening half despite being saddled with foul trouble. Purewal picked up two fouls in the first quarter and wasn't a factor in the opening half.
"We had to dive pretty deep into our bench," Hunter said.
Ceres High outscored Pacheco 27-19 during the second half.
The Bulldogs compiled a 15-9 overall record and placed third in the Western Athletic Conference (8-4) this year.
Patterson (12-0) took first.
Pacheco (9-3) and El Captian (9-3) tied for second.
The Bulldogs dropped two of their first seven contests.
Sandhu and Palafox were sidelined for a total of seven games.
Palafox missed the final three after suffering a knee injury.
Sandhu didn't play during Ceres High's last four games. He missed three while visiting family in India.
"We didn't accomplish our goal of winning a league title," Hunter said. We lost some close games. It's not like we got blown out."
The Bulldogs won 13 of their final 17 games, including five of six in WAC play.
Ceres High avenged losses to El Capitan and Central Valley.
"It's a testament to the character of my kids and the hard work they put in," Hunter said. "They were focused. They played with more chemistry. We had a very talented group of players."