Piedmont girls basketball rolls in playoff opener

Bryan Gardere (center) with Natalia Martinez (10), Dorothy Nemeth (20), Samantha Smith (21), Perseas Gioukoris (0), and Shakila Zuberi (30) in the huddle

The Piedmont High School girls basketball team recorded an 81-29 win over visiting Lick-Wilmerding-San Francisco on February 18 in their opening game of the North Coast Section Division 4 playoffs.

The top-seeded Highlanders had received a first round bye. They advance to the semifinals on February 22 at home against McKinleyville.

Natalia Martinez scored 25 points for Piedmont, which had five players in double-figures. Eva Levingston and Perseas Gioukaris each scored 12 points, while Trinity Zamora and Madison Hill each had 10.

“I thought the girls did a good job,” Piedmont coach Bryan Gardere said. “I feel you’ve got to come in ready to go, respect everybody and don’t get too ahead of ourselves.”

Gardere said he called a very early timeout because even though the score was 4-4 because the two Tiger baskets came on drives to the right. He had written on the board in the locker room to force Lick-Wilmerding’s players to go left.

“Next thing I knew, it was 20-4,” Gardere said.

It was 23-10 at the end of the first quarter and 46-14 at halftime.

Gardere said Martinez had a standout play in the game.

“Nat made a spin move, finished left and made the crowd go bananas,” he said. “Everybody was going crazy. That was kind of fun to get the reaction.”

Kailee Mahlstedt-Kamekona led the Tigers with 18 points. No one else scored more than five.

The Tigers are a familiar opponent for the Highlanders in the NCS playoffs. Piedmont defeated Lick-Wilmerding in last year’s NCS Division 4 playoffs and fell on the road to the Tigers in 2020.

Gardere said facing teams that have eliminated his teams in the past is a motivating factor.

“We want Marin Catholic,” he said. “We want Lincoln(-Stockton). We were excited about this game too. We respect all of our opponents. We know what a solid program they have.”

Marin Catholic beat Piedmont in the NCS championship last year and Lincoln-Stockton eliminated the Highlanders from the California Interscholastic Federation Division 2 playoffs in 2022.

McKinleyville is a familiar opponent as well for Piedmont, but not as recently. The teams last played at a tournament in December, 2015.

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