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Longtime buddies Brian de la Porte, Julio Marquez coach against each other
Brian de la Porte returned home to Ceres last week to coach against his former team. Patterson defeated Ceres High 49-40 in Western Athletic Conference play on Wednesday. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Former Ceres High varsity boys basketball head coach Brian de la Porte returned home last Wednesday to face the Bulldogs.

His new team, Patterson, held on to beat Ceres High 49-40 on Wednesday at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.

Ceres High's student section chanted Brian's last name after the buzzer sounded.

"I love this place," de la Porte said. "This is where I grew up. There are a lot of kids in that Ceres High School locker room that I love. But I'm a Tiger now."
Brian's father Phil, good friend Andy Chipponeri and former employer Frank Chong were in attendance. Some of de la Porte's former players dropped by as well.

"A lot of people came out to this game to support me," Brian said. "Being able to coach in front of your own dad is awesome. It's a great honor."

Said Phil: "I wanted Brian's team to win. He's new there."

Unable to find a full-time teaching job with Ceres Unified School District, Brian stepped down as head coach of the Bulldogs following a five-year stint in May and took over the same position with Patterson High School. He was also hired to teach health and physical education.

The Bulldogs posted a 61-72 record, participated in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs twice and won one Western Athletic Conference title during de la Porte's coaching tenure.

Ceres High compiled a 14-13 overall record, finished third in the WAC (7-5) and advanced to the Division-III postseason tournament last season.

The Bulldogs won their first conference title in 17 years, went 17-9 and qualified for the playoffs in 2010-11.

Ceres High post player Harman Chung played for de la Porte during his junior and sophomore years.

"He needed a job so he had to go there," Harman said. "It gave us more motivation to beat Patterson. We wanted it bad. It's like the Ceres High-Central Valley rivalry."

Julio Marquez was named de la Porte's successor in June. Julio assisted Brian for four seasons.

Marquez and de la Porte have been good friends for more than a dozen years.

They played varsity boys basketball together for one season at Ceres High.

"We still hang out all the time," Marquez said. "We don't really talk about Xs and Os. We talk about preparing for other teams. It's tough. You always want to beat your friend."

"He's one of my best friends," de la Porte said. "When that ball goes up, I want to beat him."

"There's a lot of emotion involved," Phil said. "I don't think people realize how close Julio is to us. He was a pallbearer at my wife's funeral. He's been like a second son to me. We've traveled the world together."

Brian and Julio didn't put any additional pressure on their teams during last week's meeting.

"It's about focusing on the task at hand," de la Porte said. "You put all the other stuff aside."

"The game was intense from start to finish," Marquez said. "There was pressure because it's Patterson and it's a league home game. I didn't have to motivate the guys."

Brian paced the sideline, yelled and stomped his feet throughout the game.

"It's so loud," he said. "I just do that to get the kids' attention."

Ceres High topped Patterson 54-53 for fifth place at Turlock's 37th Annual Frank Godinez Tournament.

Patterson and Ceres High will face off twice in WAC play this year.