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Varsity Bulldogs rebound
Ceres High School's varsity boys basketball team dropped from No. 5 to 12 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II power ratings after opening the second half of the Western Athletic Conference season with back-to-back losses.

The previously-unbeaten Bulldogs rebounded with a 77-61 victory over Patterson Friday night at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.

"We needed this bad," Ceres High senior guard Edgar Lopez said.

With two games remaining, the Bulldogs find themselves in position to win a league title during their first season in the WAC. Ceres High (15-8, 6-2) could also improve its seeding for playoffs.

Livingston (15-11, 7-9) holds a half-game lead over the Bulldogs in the conference standings.

The two teams will face off this week. Ceres High won the first meeting, 72-49.

"It's been a while since we've won a league title," Lopez said. "We've been in a drought. We want it so bad because we're so close. We can taste it. We just have to stay focused, continue to practice hard and win out."

Lopez drained four treys and tallied a game-high 26 points for Ceres High. John Dhillon, Chris Hilgen, Binder Atwal and George Borden added 15, 12, eight and six points, respectively. Kendall Vertner and Jose Nava both chipped in with three points. Hadon Lopez and Jimbo Pernetti each had two points.

"My teammates were looking for me and I was finishing," Edgar said.

All five of Ceres High's starters contributed during a 14-4 run in the opening four minutes of the first quarter. Atwal had five points. Edgar Lopez scored three points. Dhillon, Hilgen and Borden all collected two points.

The Bulldogs led 43-22 at halftime.

Pernetti's basket put Ceres High ahead by 30, 63-33, with 2:18 left in the third quarter.

"We knew if we limited them to outside shots and played defense we'd win," Edgar said.

"I knew we were going to bounce back," head coach Brian de la Porte said. "We watched film and practiced well. Winning a championship is not easy. We'll be prepared for whatever Livingston throws at us."

Ceres High will play at Livingston today and Central Valley on Friday.

Ceres High and Livingston will battle for the WAC title in front of a sold-out crowd at 7:30 p.m. Fans must arrive at least one hour early to gain admittance.