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Lady Dawgs edge Beyer
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The members of the Ceres High varsity girls basketball team spend a considerable amount of time working on their free throws during practice.

“Every 15-20 minutes, we shoot for five minutes,” Bulldogs coach Shawna Nunes said.

Ceres High managed to beat Beyer 46-42 despite a nightmarish 12-for-29 performance from the foul line on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at Ceres' Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.

“It wasn't a good win but it was a win,” said Ceres senior guard Jessica Mazza, who scored 13 points but finished 1-for-9 from the charity stripe. “We did everything we were supposed to do outside of free throws. I just choked. I was thinking too much.”

Added Nunes: “Free throws should be a routine. There should be no thought process when you get on the line.”

Ceres High remained atop the Modesto Metro Conference standings with Grace Davis by virtue of their victory. The Bulldogs, Patriots and Spartans entered the game in a three-way tie for first. The Spartans routed the Modesto High Panthers 64-41 at Davis High.

The Bulldogs also extended their home court winning streak to 10 straight, including six in league. About 500 fans attended the Ceres-Beyer contest.

“That's something we've talked about,” Nunes said. “We haven't lost at home yet. Five of our final seven games are on the road.”

Team chemistry has been key for the Bulldogs.

“We don't have any selfish kids,” Nunes said.

Kristen McCure scored 11 points against the Patriots. Jennifer Arnold and Heather Jones had eight points apiece. Cassie Rayford and Erica Arellano chipped in four and two points, respectively. Jordan Nash, Brittany Lusk and Kyleesha Williams contributed on defense.

Jessica Rosen, Tiare Jennings and Tanya Jennings scored 15, 13 and nine points apiece for the Patriots, who made just 11 of 18 foul shots (61 percent).

Down 40-37, the Bulldogs accounted for nine of the final 11 points.

Jones brought Ceres High within one, 40-39, when she made two free throws with 3:03 left in regulation.

Rosen extended the Patriots' lead to 41-39 when she made one of two free throws with 2:37 left.

Mazza evened the score at 41-all with a layup 24 seconds later.

Ceres took its first lead of the fourth quarter when Arnold buried two foul shots to make it 43-41 with 1:29 remaining.

Arnold's clutch free throws were sandwiched between two stellar defensive plays. McClure drew a charge and Nash intercepted a pass.

Beyer had several chances to tie or take the lead in the final minute.

Rosen, the Patriots' top player, misfired twice. She missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer from the right side with 1.8 seconds to play. She also missed a 3 from the top of the key, which would have put Beyer ahead by one, with 57 seconds left.

Ceres finished 3-for-8 from the foul line in the final 55.7 seconds. McClure made one of her two foul shots after Rosen's miss in the waning seconds.

“We could have put it away by five, six or seven points in the last minute of the half,” Nunes said. “We gave them so many opportunities.”

Ceres High outscored Beyer 24-18 in the first half on 10-for-24 shooting. The Bulldogs made just three of their nine foul shots in the second quarter.

“I wanted to close the deal from the beginning,” Mazza said. “If we make those free throws, we win by 15.”

The Bulldogs led 13-12 at the end of the first quarter. McClure and Mazza helped Ceres High overcome a 12-7 deficit with a 6-0 run in the final 1:33. McClure scored inside and knocked down a close-range jumper. Mazza converted a layup.

Ceres High will play at Grace Davis today and Modesto High on Thursday. Both games start at 7:15 p.m. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier