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Varsity boys struggle in conference play
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Ceres High varsity boys basketball player Rafael Valencia still believes his team can secure a berth in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs despite a miserable start.

Valencia scored 11 points during the Bulldogs' 52-44 loss to Davis in Modesto Metro Conference play on Saturday in Modesto. The senior sent the game into overtime when he buried a high-arching 3-pointer with 14.7 seconds left in regulation.

"If we win six of our home games and split the away games, we still have a chance," he said.

Zack Wiedenbeck, Bryant Hill and Charlie Cunha added nine, seven and six points, respectively, for Ceres, which fell to 0-5 in the MMC, 6-11 overall.

Anthony Mattos and Jake Laudenslayer each had 16 points for Davis, which improved to 1-4 in the league standings.

"We were lackadaisical in the second half," Valencia said. "We gave up too many layups. We didn't move the ball around. We missed a lot of shots. We had a lot of turnovers."

The Bulldogs led by 8, 23-15, at the break. They shot 30 percent (8-for-27) from the field and 50 percent (4-for-8) from the free-throw line in the first half. The Spartans shot 14 percent (3-for-21) from the field and 46 percent (6-for-13) from the foul line.

Ceres' lead evaporated in the second half thanks in large part to poor guard play and no inside presence on defense.

Davis outscored Ceres 37-21, including 14-2 in the third quarter, 15-7 in overtime.

Mattos and Laudenslayer led the way as the Spartans shot 52 percent (13-for-25) from the field and 61 percent (11-for-18) from the foul line. The Bulldogs shot 27 percent (8-for-30) from the field and committed 12 turnovers.

Laudenslayer had 10 points in the third quarter. His fifth-straight basket evened the score at 25-all with 3:09 remaining.

Mattos scored nine points in overtime, including six straight during an 8-0 Davis run, which put the Spartans ahead 43-37 with 1:37 remaining.

Ceres trailed 47-44 with 45.1 seconds remaining after Wiedenbeck made a pair of free throws.

Davis scored the final five points of the game. Laudenslayer and Marquell Colston each had two points. Mattos added one point.

The Bulldogs shot 28 percent (16-for-57) from the floor, 60 percent (6-for-10) from the foul line and had 18 turnovers in the game. The Spartans shot 35 percent (16-for-46) from the floor, 55 percent (17-for-31) from the foul line and had 19 turnovers.

"We're getting good shots," Valencia said. "We just can't hit them."

Downey routs Ceres

The Knights turned in an impressive performance against the Bulldogs in Modesto Friday night.

Downey outscored Ceres 23-8 in the first half and won by 30 points, 68-38.

Donnie Mekeel led the Knights with 20 points. Brad Bispo, Andre Poree and Zeph Tyson added 14, 13 and nine points, respectively. Bispo dunked twice in the first half.

Cunha led the Bulldogs with 10 points. Wiedenbeck and Hill both had six points. Hill made two 3-pointers. Matt Schwark, Kevin Dupree and Brad Muniz all had four points.

Downey outscored Ceres 32-16 in the second half, including 18-9 in the third quarter and 14-7 in the fourth.

The Bulldogs shot 25 percent (2-for-8) from the free-throw line.

The Knights shot 47 percent (15-for-32) from the foul line.

Patriots edge Dawgs

Beyer outscored Ceres 16-9 in the third quarter and held on for a 73-68 victory Wednesday night in Modesto.

Chris Teevan scored a game-high 26 points, including 13 in the third quarter, for the Patriots. Brett Blom and Dwight Nixon added 16 and 13 points, respectively.

Wiedenbeck led the Bulldogs with a team-high 22 points. Ross Tate tallied nine points. Dupree, Valenica and Hill had eight points apiece.

Ceres battled back from an 11-point deficit by outscoring Beyer 27-21 in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs trailed by just two points with 1:15 remaining. Teevan's 3-point play sealed the win for the Patriots.

Beyer led by just four points, 36-32, at halftime.

The Patriots shot 75 percent (27-for-36) from the free-throw line for the game. The Bulldogs shot 54 percent (7-for-13) from the foul line.

Beyer also buried four 3-pointers. Teevan and Ben Walden each made two.

The Bulldogs buried three 3-pointers. Hill made two, while Schwark made one.

Ceres will play host to Modesto High on Friday at 7:15 p.m. and at Johansen on Saturday at 5 p.m. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff Reporter of The Ceres (Calif.) Courier