Piedmont boys basketball falls to Oakland, beats St. Mary’s and others

A.J. Harris shoots against University HS

A.J. Harris scored 37 points, but the Piedmont High School boys basketball team couldn’t get enough from the rest of the roster as it fell 73-57 to Oakland in the I Have a  Dream Classic at Merritt College on January 16.

It was the second of two Martin Luther King holiday events for the Highlanders. They defeated St. Mary’s-Albany on January 14, 65-38, in the MLK Showcase at Berkeley High School.

Against Oakland, Piedmont (12-4) struggled to make its shots, according to Highlander coach Ben Spencer.

“We had a lot of good looks in the first half,” Spencer said. “Credit to Oakland, they are long, athletic, well-coached and play good man ball pressure. At the other end, they were making their (shots).”

The Wildcats got much more scoring balance. Money Williams had 12 points, Josh Clark had 11 and Te’Shawn Gamble had 10. Twelve Oakland players scored and eight had at least five points.

Brit Burden had eight points, but only five Piedmont players scored.

Spencer said although his team has had shooting problems during the season, the key has been to get a few 3-pointers to go down from players other than Harris. Spencer said that over the past five games, the rest of the roster is 10 of 49 from 3-point range.

“We have to get other guys,” Spencer said. “Because A.J. gets so much attention, guys are getting great matchups. If we get a few shots from other guys, we can be really good.”

The Highlanders got six 3-pointers from people other than Harris in the win over St. Mary’s. Harris had 17 points (including three 3-pointers) to again lead the way, but Theo Evans had 10 points (two 3-pointers), Ravi Silverberg nine points (one 3-pointer), Burden nine points and Thorin Holmes eight. Cairo Osman, Teagan Haddawy and Matteo Costa-Claudio each hit a 3-pointer.

The Panthers last saw Piedmont in the 2020 North Coast Section Division IV championship game, when the Highlanders won the first NCS title in school history.

This time, Piedmont took control in the second quarter, outscoring St. Mary’s, 28-10 to take a 33-20 lead at halftime. It was more of the same in the third quarter.

Sophomore Ahmad Gabriel led the Panthers with 14 points.

On January 12, Piedmont pulled out a 59-57 home win over Alameda, getting three huge baskets down the stretch from Silverberg. The final one was a 3-pointer with three seconds left. The Hornets got an off-balanced shot off at the end, but it didn’t go in.

Spencer said the Highlanders had to “win” the game three times, as Alameda responded after Silverberg’s first two baskets in the final minute.

Harris had 18 points, Silverberg 14 and Burden 10. Zion Moore had 15 points for the Hornets, Gabe Garcia 11 and Jackson Yep added 10.

On January 10, Piedmont traveled to Castro Valley and came away with a 61-55 win. It was the Harris and Burden show, with the two combining for 51 of the Highlanders points. Harris finished with 32, scoring 12 of those in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve got no easy wins on the road especially with a young team,” Spencer said. “Got a 13-point lead. I thought our half-court defense was great. We just couldn’t put them away because we couldn’t make shots. They got on a run in the third quarter, they couldn’t miss a shot.”

Burden scored 12 of his 19 points in the second quarter.

Ekam Sandhu led the Trojans with 17 points.

The Highlanders returned from winter break on January 6 with a 62-47 win at St. Joseph-Notre Dame. Harris had 30 points and Burden had 19. Piedmont outscored the Pilots 17-5 in the fourth quarter to take control of the game.

Gabe Enyinwa scored 17 points for St. Joseph, while Teo Salgues added 15.

The Highlanders’ game at San Leandro on January 4 was postponed due to the storms and will be played on January 28.

Piedmont next visits rival Bishop O’Dowd on January 18 with a 7 p.m. tipoff. The Dragons are 7-9 after defeating Taft-Woodland Hills in a Martin Luther King event at De La Salle on January 16.

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