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Lady Bulldogs survive scare from Pride
Ceres High varsity girls basketball coach Shawna Nunes breathed a sigh of relief upon exiting the locker room after her Bulldogs held off a second-half rally from Pitman for a 49-46 victory in the season opener for both programs on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.

"It's not a cool way to win," junior point guard Brittany Lusk said. "We got pressure put on us and we panicked."

Lusk scored 13 points, Kaylee Brown had 12 and Jode Johnson added 11 to help Ceres beat Pitman.

"The thing that I was most impressed with was that she (Brittany) did not panic with the ball," Nunes said. "She handled it very well. She's only going to get better."

Aimee Gunzenhauser, Breann Lomeli and Jamie Beck chipped in seven, four and two points, respectively, for the Bulldogs (1-0).

Nicole Guzman hit five 3-pointers en route to scoring a game-high 15 points for the Pride (0-1). Katelynn Staack, Nahrin Daniloadeh and Yessenia Loza contributed seven, six and three points, respectively.

Ceres overwhelmed Pitman in the opening 16 minutes.

"The first half was amazing," Lusk said. "We were pretty confident because we are a fast team and we know how to play defense."

The Bulldogs were able to apply pressure for all 32 minutes because of their depth. Nunes used 10 of her 11 players during the course of the game, including six underclassmen.

"We never backed off once," she said. "You got to be in shape to do that."

Ceres used a 7-0 run to increase its lead to 20, 37-17, with 5:27 remaining in the third quarter. Gunzenhauser hit a 3-pointer from the right baseline. Lusk buried a 2-point shot from close range.

Johnson made a pair of free throws. Beck scored inside.

A 10-2 run by Pitman closed the gap to 39-27 heading into the fourth quarter. Daniloadeh hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the final 45.7 seconds.

Pitman used a 3-point barrage to pull within 47-46 with seven-tenths of a second left on the clock. Loza, Staack and Guzman all scored from downtown in the final 32.7 seconds.

"It came because we turned the ball over on offense," Nunes said. "We weren't patient. We got brain tired. We still hung on."

Ceres made 15 of its 25 foul shots, including six in a row in the final 2:19. Brown, Gunzenhauser and Lusk converted two each.

The Bulldogs led 16-6 at the end of the first quarter and 30-17 at intermission.