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Varsity girls place second in MMC
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Together, Heather Mazza, Krystle Brown, Meghan Franksen and Kelsey Sayad have accomplished a lot. The Ceres High varsity girls basketball team has never missed the playoffs or compiled a losing record since they entered high school four years ago.

On Thursday night, the seniors tried to make history against Davis, which has beaten the Bulldogs 10 straight times since Ashley Walker's arrival in 2001-02.

Mazza scored a team-high 24 points but it wasn't enough to lead Ceres past Davis. The Spartans made six of their nine 3-pointers and shot 61 percent from the field in the second half en route to a 78-56 victory over Ceres.

"Every time we play them, the kids rise to the occasion," said Davis coach Ted Bergerson. "I can't tell you why. For whatever reason, different players step up and hit the big shot."

Added Ceres coach Shawna Nunes: "They hit everything."

When the game ended, Davis celebrated on Ceres' home court.

The Spartans compiled a perfect record in league for the third year in a row. Davis finished first in the Modesto Metro Conference with a 15-0 record and improved to 25-2 overall.

Ceres had to settle for second place for the third consecutive year. The Bulldogs went 12-3 in the MMC and fell to 20-7 overall.

The Spartans, the No. 1 seed in the Division I playoffs, defeated the Bulldogs, the No. 2 seed in the Division II playoffs, three times this season.

"We really thought it was going to be a best-of-three series," Bergerson said.

Walker had 24 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists and five blocks. She made 8 of 10 free throws.

Teammates Belinda Vega, Maria Sanchez and Tiffany Ashby also had standout games.

Vega scored 21 points, including a career-high five 3-pointers, and dished out four assists. Sanchez finished with 19 points. Ashby added 11 points and three assists.

Brown and Jennifer Arnold had seven points apiece for the Bulldogs, who shot 31 percent (22-for-72) from the floor, 52 percent (11-for-21) from the free-throw line and committed 13 turnovers. Franksen scored four points. Heather Jones and Donna Zaragoza both tallied three points. Sayad and Jessica Mazza added two points.

"I'm disappointed," Heather Mazza said. "But I'm proud of everybody for coming out here and playing heck of hard. We didn't give up."

Ceres trailed by 10 at halftime.

The Bulldogs used a 5-0 run to trim the Spartans' lead to seven, 31-24, with 36.6 seconds remaining in the first half. Jones and Jessica Mazza each scored two points. Heather Mazza made 1 of 2 free throws.

Davis responded with a 5-0 run in the final 17.8 seconds. Walker's free throw and Vega's 3-pointer at the buzzer put Davis ahead, 34-24.

A 9-5 Ceres run helped pull the Bulldogs within six points with 4:14 remaining in the third quarter. Davis outscored Ceres 13-10 in the final 3:58 to extend its lead to 11, 52-41. The Spartans made four 3-pointers in the quarter.

Davis finished off Ceres with a 26-15 run in the fourth quarter. Sanchez, Vega, Walker and Ashby had eight, seven, six and five points, respectively.

Heather Mazza scored 18 points after intermission, including nine in each quarter. She fouled out with 1:06 left in regulation and received a standing ovation.

"She was going to do whatever it takes to help them win," Bergerson said.

Said Nunes: "We told her to keep attacking the basket."

Added Mazza: "I really did feel like a ball hog."

Davis shot 45 percent (29-for-64) from the floor, 73 percent (11-for-15) from the foul line and had 16 turnovers.

The Spartans made 17 of 28 shots in the second half, including 7 of 15 in the third quarter and 10 of 13 in the fourth.

Bulldogs rout Knights

Ceres High and Downey battled in the first half.

Then Heather Mazza took over. Ceres' senior point guard scored 17 of her game-high 22 points in the second half as the Bulldogs posted a 50-28 victory over the Knights in Modesto on Tuesday, Feb. 15.

Meghan Franksen and Kelsey Sayad added 11 and six points, respectively, for Ceres.

"Jessica (Mazza), Meghan and Jennifer (Arnold) played great defense," Heather said. "That's why I was able to score."

Lisa Watson scored 18 points and grabbed 20 rebounds for Downey.

The Bulldogs outscored the Knights 33-7 after intermission, including 17-5 in the third quarter.

Ceres tallied 16 points in the fourth quarter, 14 more than Downey.

The Bulldogs led 21-17 at halftime.

Both teams struggled from the free-throw line.

Ceres shot 41 percent (12-for-29) from the foul line.

Downey shot just 26 percent (5-for-19) from the charity stripe. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff Reporter of The Ceres (Calif.) Courier