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More than 70 sign up for Bulldog camp
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Phil de la Porte didn't expect to see Vanessa Morris at the 15th Annual Ceres High School Bulldog Basketball Camp.

The 1996 Ceres High graduate has a taxing work schedule.

"It was a surprise," said de la Porte, Ceres High's athletic director and assistant varsity girls basketball coach. "I didn't know if she'd be able to do it. She's working graveyard."

Morris works for Stanislaus County. She's a group supervisor at Juvenile Hall.

"I don't mind giving up my time," said Morris, a former standout high school and college basketball player. "This thing is for a good cause.

"It's an opportunity to give back and help the program."

Morris earned a basketball scholarship to Oregon State and finished her career at Cal State Stanislaus.

She was one of the most dominant high school players in California during her senior year. She ranked fifth in the state in scoring with a 28.9 points per game average and was a major reason for the Bulldogs' record-setting season.

With Morris leading the way, Ceres went 16-0 in the Valley Oak League, 31-1 overall and advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Playoff semifinals game. The Bulldogs didn't lose a single game during the regular season. No other boys or girls basketball team in the school's history has accomplished that feat.

"I worked hard," Morris said. "Phil helped me a lot too but he doesn't take any credit. He should. He was a mentor."

Morris honed her skills in Ceres. She's participated in more than a dozen camps, both as a player and/or coach.

"I've been coming here since I was in the third grade," she said.

On Thursday, Morris provided instruction in shooting to a group of high-school students.

"I got off at work at 7, slept a little bit and came in," she said.

Created in 1990 by de la Porte, the Bulldog Camp serves more than 70 youth every summer.

"We do the basics," de la Porte said. "A lot of footwork, dribbling and passing. We also do shooting drills. We don't stress the X's and O's."

About 71 youngsters attended this year's camp, including 25 in the morning session for fourth through eighth graders, 36 in the afternoon session for ninth through 12th graders and 10 in the after-school session for fourth through seventh graders.

Ceres High coaches Shawna Nunes and Kassi Baker also volunteered at the camp, which was held in the Ceres High main gymnasium, June 14-25.

Returning varsity girls basketball players Heather and Jessica Mazza, Krystle Brown, Kelsey Sayad and Jennifer Arnold assisted with the elementary-school children.

"Those kids have been in the camp a long time," de la Porte said. "They know what they're doing." - By DALE BUTLER / Staff Reporter of The Ceres (Calif.) Courier