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Hilgen propels Dawgs to third-place showing
Will Hilgen didn't flinch.

The speedy point guard buried two free throws with 2.6 seconds remaining, lifting the Ceres High freshman boys basketball team to a 43-42 win over Big Valley Christian in the opening round of its home tournament on Wednesday at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.

The Bulldogs finished in third place with a 2-1 record.

"The entire team played extremely well," Ceres High head coach Tracy Bull said. "I'm proud of the effort."

Hilgen was named to the all-tourney team.

Will totaled 50 points in three games.

"If we didn't have him on the floor, we'd struggle," Bull said.

Hilgen had 12 points against Big Valley.

Bulldog teammates Martin Reyes, Harman Bansel and Erik Collins added 13, nine and four points, respectively.

Collins' inside basket cut the deficit to 42-41 with eight seconds to play.

Big Valley proceeded to miss two foul shots, setting up the thrilling finish.

"We played really spirited basketball," Bull said. "It was a very exciting win."

Ceres High lost 53-49 to runner-up Ripon in the semifinals on Thursday.

Hilgen converted 17 of 19 foul shots on his way to tallying a team-high 23 points.

Bansel, Reyes and Collins scored 12, eight and four points, respectively.

The Bulldogs rallied late.

Facing a nine-point deficit, Ceres High pulled within three with 17 seconds to play.

Hilgen nearly evened the score but his 3-pointer from straightaway was off the mark.

"He got a good look and it went in and out," Bull said.

Ripon made one of two foul shots to put the contest out of reach.

"Ripon was bigger, stronger and faster," Bull said. "It was really surprising we were able to hang with them. We came within an eye lash of playing for the championship. It was a very exciting game."

Ceres High dominated from start to finish in posting a 43-25 victory over Escalon on Friday.

Reyes collected a team-high 16 points.

Hilgen, Bansel and Collins contributed 15, seven and three points, respectively.

The Bulldogs led 24-11 at the break.

"We never trailed," Bull said.