Ceres High’s varsity girls basketball team just fell short of accomplishing its second goal this past week.
The Bulldogs dropped out of playoff-berth contention after closing out the 2019-20 campaign with back-to-back losses.
A year removed from earning just eight wins, the much-improved Bulldogs amassed a 15-13 overall record and placed fourth in the Western Athletic Conference standings (8-6).
Ceres High snapped its streak of six straight losing seasons.
“It’s a big improvement from last year,” second-year coach Mike Estrada Jr. said. “I’m proud of them. A lot of people didn’t think we’d have this quick of a turnaround. The girls put in a lot of hard work and it showed on the court. Everybody stepped up this year. It wasn’t just one player. It was nice to see them grow and gain confidence as players and a team.”
First-place Los Banos eliminated Ceres High from playoff contention with a 61-38 home win on Thursday.
“It’s a tough way to end the season. We didn’t play our best.”Coach Mike Estrada Jr.
“It’s a tough way to end the season,” Estrada said. “We didn’t play our best.”
Mia Rodriguez led the Bulldogs with 11 points,
Catryna Marquez had eight points, eight steals, five rebounds and two assists.
Jalaycie Melendez had six points.
Thanya Gonzalez had five points, nine rebounds and four steals.
Celeste Leon had four points, six rebounds, four steals and one assist.
Lysaida Munoz had three points, five rebounds and one steal.
Mya Robinson had one point, four rebounds, two steals and one assist.
Ceres High lost 41-35 at second-place Mountain House on Feb. 11.
“We showed a lot of improvement from the last time we played them,” Estrada said.
Marquez had eight points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Leon had six points, six steals, three rebounds and one assist.
Robinson had six points, two rebounds, two assists and one steal.
Gonzalez had five points, 10 rebounds and one steal.
Munoz had five points, five rebounds and one steal.
Rodriguez had three points, seven rebounds, two steals and one assist.
Melendez had two points, two rebounds and one steal.
The Bulldogs had four players foul out during the game, including Marquez, Gonzalez and Rodriguez.
Ceres High trailed by just four points midway through the fourth quarter.
“It was a really good game,” Estrada said. “The first time, we lost by 23 points.”
Ceres High had a combined record of 0-4 versus Los Banos and Mountain House.
“There was a little bit of pressure,” Estrada said. “The girls knew how big those games were. If we would have won one game, we would have played Lathrop for the final playoff spot. We’re a young team. We’ll learn from the experience.”
Ceres High came agonizingly close to ending years of postseason futility this winter.
The Bulldogs secured their last playoff berth in 2012-13.
“It was fun experience, overall,” Estrada said. “We were one of the top teams in league. This should be the new expectations for the girls basketball program moving forward.”
Ceres High will lose just two players to graduation in Mya Robinson and Gurmenjit Bahia.
Marquez, Munoz, Leon, Rodriguez and Gonzalez will return to the team.
“We have five solid players coming back,” Estrada said.