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Mendoza scores winning basket for JV Dawgs
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Sabrina Mendoza's close-range shot with 30 seconds left gave the Ceres High JV girls basketball team a 37-35 victory over Pitman on opening night at Mae Hensley Jr. High School on Tuesday, Nov. 22. The point guard was recently promoted from the freshman squad. Mendoza started against the Pride.

“She stepped in and did a really good job,” Ceres coach Kassi Baker said.

Kaylee Brown led the Bulldogs with 14 points, including 4-of-4 from the free-throw line, and 12 rebounds.

“She's our best player right now,” Baker said.

Freshman Aimee Gunzenhauser added six points and four rebounds. Jessica Arellano also had six points. She made two 3-pointers. Marissa Cabusas contributed four points. Mendoza, Kasandra Dixon and Madelyn Khut all had two points. Lisa Seaborn scored one point.

Ceres trailed for most of the game.

Down 24-21, the Bulldogs outscored the Pride 16-11 in the fourth quarter. Arellano, Brown, Gunzenhauser and Mendoza had six, four, three and two points, respectively.

Mendoza made the game-winning basket after Ceres' stifling press defense forced a turnover. Brown registered the steal.

The Pride tied the game at 35 with 1:30 left on two free throws.

Ceres shot 50 percent (9-of-18) from the foul line for the game. The Bulldogs made 7-of-10 from the charity stripe in the second half.

“This is the best start we have ever had free-throw wise,” Baker said.

Pitman led 14-10 at intermission.

“If our shots fell in the first half, we would have beat them by 20,” Baker said.

The Bulldogs will host a tournament, Dec. 8-10. They will face the Hughson Huskies in the first round on Thursday night at Blaker-Kinser Jr. High School. The game starts at 8.

Ceres will play its first league game at Modesto High School on Jan. 3. Baker and the Bulldogs are shooting for a top-three finish in the Modesto Metro Conference this season. Ceres placed first last year.

“We should be up there depending on how quickly we learn and if we can handle the press,” Baker said. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier