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Lady Dawgs rout Apaches in playoffs
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The Ceres High varsity girls team received a standing ovation as it headed for the locker room at halftime Thursday night in Ceres.

The Bulldogs allowed just three points in the second quarter and cruised past Vallejo 59-39 in the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs.

"To win by 20 is quite impressive," said Ceres coach Shawna Nunes. "I really felt it was going to be closer."

Heather Mazza had 19 points, Krystle Brown added 18, and Meghan Franksen and Jennifer Arnold both scored seven for second-seeded Ceres, which will play against 11th-seeded Woodcreek of Roseville, in the semifinals of the playoffs at the University of the Pacific tonight at 7:30 p.m.

The Bulldogs improved to 23-6 overall.

The Apaches, the No. 7 seed, finished the year with a 20-7 record.

Vallejo struggled after Ceres switched from a zone to press defense following the first quarter of play.

Down 17-14, the Bulldogs outscored the Apaches 17-3 in the second quarter for a 31-20 lead at the break. Brown and Franksen each had four points. Mazza scored three points. Donna Zaragoza and Arnold both added three points.

Vallejo missed 16 of 17 shots in the second quarter and committed seven turnovers. Ceres made 6 of 13 shots, 3 of 7 free throws and committed just three turnovers.

The Bulldogs extended their lead to 14 in the third quarter. Brown scored six points. She made a layup and two jumpers in the key. Mazza had four points, including a layup and two free throws. Zaragoza added two points. Ceres outscored Vallejo 9-2 in the final 2:53.

The Bulldogs continued to dominate in the fourth quarter.

Ceres scored 16 points, five more than Vallejo. The Bulldogs made 8 of 11 free throws and four layups. Mazza and Franksen had six and three points, respectively. Brown, Arnold and Kristen McClure all scored two points. Zaragoza added one point.

Sare'ya Shorter and Dominique Johnson helped the Apaches build a three-point lead in the first quarter. Shorter scored nine points as she made her first three shots. Johnson scored eight points.

Ceres shot 39 percent (21-for-54) from the field, 68 percent (15-for-22) from the free-throw line and committed just 15 turnovers, including six in the first half.

Vallejo shot 26 percent (18-for-70) from the field and 25 percent (1-for-4) from the foul line.

The Bulldogs forced 24 turnovers.

"We played great defense for 32 minutes," Nunes said.

Ceres cruises past Armijo

Jennifer Arnold wasn't missing, so her teammates continued to put the ball in her hands.

The junior guard scored all 14 of her points in the first half, including a career-high four 3-pointers, as Ceres routed Armijo 64-49 in the first round of the Division II playoffs on Tuesday, Feb. 22 in Ceres.

Heather Mazza, Jessica Mazza, Kristen McClure, Krystle Brown, Meghan Franksen and Donna Zaragoza also contributed. Heather Mazza tallied a team-high 15 points, including 10 in the second half. McClure and Jessica Mazza each had eight points. Brown and Franksen both scored six points. Zaragoza added five points.

Kori Williams and Connie Garrett totaled 19 and 14 points, respectively, for the Indians, who finished the season with a 12-13 record.

Armijo, the No. 15 seed, kept the game close for 15 minutes.

Ceres took control with unselfish play.

Down 16-15, the Bulldogs closed out the second quarter with a 23-9 run. Arnold and McClure each had six points. Zaragoza, Jessica Mazza and Heather Mazza added five, four and two points, respectively.

Ceres led by 15, 38-23, at halftime.

The Bulldogs played even better in the third quarter as they buried nine of 15 shots and committed just one turnover. Ceres made six layups and three jumpers, including one in the paint and two just outside of the key, for a 56-23 lead.

Nunes put in her reserves, including Jordan Nash, Emily Coutrakis, Crystal Perez and Jessica Hunter, in the fourth quarter.

Ceres outscored Armijo 13-8 in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs used a 8-2 run in the final four minutes, 22 seconds to turn a one-point deficit into a five-point lead. Arnold buried a 3-pointer and two of three free throws after getting fouled while attempting a 3-point shot. Heather Mazza made three of four foul shots.

Ceres shot 42 percent (24-for-57) from the floor and 61 percent (11-for-18) from the free-throw line for the game.

Armijo shot 36 percent (21-for-58) from the floor and 58 percent (7-for-12) from the foul line. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff Reporter of The Ceres (Calif.) Courier