The winter sports season was filled with many highlights. Now is the perfect time to recollect and celebrate.
Top male athlete-Gabe Balderas will be remembered as one of Ceres High School's all-time greatest wrestlers. The Bulldog senior accomplished a first in program history when he qualified for the CIF State Championships for the third time. Balderas compiled a 1-2 record in the 113-pound division. Gabe won 46 of 51 matches, captured his third straight Western Athletic Conference title and placed first at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV finals for the time this year. He took second at Masters and third at the Sierra-Nevada Classic. Balderas had a career record of 156-42.
Top female athlete-Central Valley senior Malynda Lomeli fell one win shy of placing at the CIF Girls State Wrestling Invitational. Lomeli won three of five matches in the 122-pound division. She posted a 35-7 record during her final season with the Hawks.
Male newcomer- Ryan Donnelly, formerly of Pitman, had a productive first season with Central Valley's boys basketball team. The 6-foot-6 junior forward was named to the Western Athletic Conference First Team. He averaged 16.6 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
Female newcomer-Nicole Bates averaged 15.0 points per game in Western Athletic Conference play while starring on Ceres High's girls basketball team. The freshman guard totaled 50 points as the Bulldogs compiled a 1-1 record against crosstown-rival Central Valley. She had a career-high 27 points in a 51-46 win over the Hawks. Bates reached double figures in scoring in 10 of 12 conference games.
Coach-Ceres High's girls basketball team experienced a major turnaround under second-year head coach Vanessa Morris' guidance. The Bulldogs qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the first time in three years, placed third in the Western Athletic Conference (7-5) and posted an 11-9 overall record. Ceres High finished 9-15 on the season and fourth in the WAC (4-8) in 2012.
Team-Ceres High's boys basketball team qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs, posted a 14-13 overall record and finished third in the Western Athletic Conference (7-5). Jimbo Pernetti, Harman Chung and Abel Reyes filled key roles as the Bulldogs advanced to the postseason for the first time since 2010-11. The Bulldogs and Hawks placed third and fourth, respectively, at the WAC Wrestling Championships. Ceres High's Gabe Balderas, Ruben Sanchez, Armando Morales, David Cisneros, Abel Morales, Daniel Raya, Nick Santibanez, Micah Young and Rudy Gonzales, and Central Valley's Adrian Vizcaino, Isaiah Gonzales, Frankie Valdez, Eddy Nunez, Jorge Canales, Michael Manzur, Cristian Garcia and Joaquin Garcia advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Tournament.
Game-Ceres High's boys basketball team spoiled Patterson's homecoming with a 69-64 overtime win. The loss dropped the Tigers into a first-place tie with Central Catholic in the Western Athletic Conference. Patterson won 13 straight games, nine in a row in league, before being upset by the Bulldogs. Ceres High had four players score in double figures, including Jimbo Pernetti (19), Harman Chung (15), Angel Garcia (12) and Caden Johnson (10). Hundreds of Central Valley boys basketball fans stormed their home court after the Hawks rallied for a 62-60 victory over crosstown-rival Ceres High. Central Valley battled back from an 11-point deficit in the second half. Down 58-52, the Hawks went on a 10-2 run to end the game. Central Valley forced six turnovers down the stretch, including four by Jordan Thornton. Thornton totaled a game-high 21 points. Hawk teammate Jaron Dickson buried all eight of his free throws and tallied 15 points. Ryan Donnelly added 10 points. Chung, Johnson, and Reyes collected 20, 16 and 13 points, respectively, in defeat.
Honorable mention-Ceres High's Ruben Sanchez (boys wrestling), Armando Morales (boys wrestling), Jimbo Pernetti (boys basketball), Harman Chung (boys basketball), Abel Reyes (boys basketball), Bryce Ford (girls basketball) and Ryleigh Honberger (girls basketball), and Central Valley's Brittany Martinez (girls basketball), Mia Lorenzo (girls basketball), Jaron Dickson (boys basketball) and Ryan Donnelly (boys basketball), Adrian Vizcaino (boys wrestling), Isaiah Gonzales (boys wrestling), Jorge Canales, (boys wrestling), Eddy Nunez (boys wrestling), Michael Manzur (boys wrestling), Ashley Barnes-Berrios (girls wrestling) and Lexy Cordova (girls wrestling).