Piedmont boys basketball to play championship game Friday evening

Piedmont's Thorin Holmes (L) and Declan Linnane (C) try to trap Ephraim Sohn (11) of Archie Williams in an NCS playoff game on February 20. (Photo by Damin Esper)

Owen Bugas launched his shot from near half court as the final seconds wound down on the clock on Feb. 20. The Curry-esque bomb went in for Bugas giving him 47 points on the night. But it was not quite enough for the Archie Williams High School senior as Piedmont prevailed 64-61 in a North Coast Section Division 3 semifinal at Archie Williams.

The Highlanders advanced to the NCS championship game against top-seeded University-San Francisco. The game will be played at the University of San Francisco’s War Memorial Gymnasium on Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.

Arjun Bornstein (gray) goes up to the basket while Archie Williams’ Ephrain Sohn (11), Brian Wright (21) and Alexander Hamblet (14) attempt to defend. Piedmont advanced to the NCS finals with a 64-61 victory. (Photo by Damin Esper)

Brit Burden had a heck of game himself, scoring 28 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. That helped Piedmont build a 21-point lead in the second half and carry a 19-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Then, Bugas took over, scoring 24 of his points in the final period. He put a scare into the Highlanders, but his long shot at the end made the game closer than it appeared. The Peregrine Falcons never cut the lead to a single possession.

Piedmont’s Dillon Casey (12) guards Owen Bugas of Archie Williams. Bugas scored 47 points but the Highlanders prevailed, 64-61. (Photo by Damin Esper)

The individual battle between the two players was extremely entertaining. It was also a case of two star players impressing each other.

“He’s a heck of a player,” Burden said. “That’s the best single-game performance I’ve ever played against. Wow. He’s a special player.”

But Bugas noted that Archie Williams never could get a handle on Burden.

“What went wrong continued to go wrong all game,” he said. “We just couldn’t stop No. 23 (Burden).”

Piedmont’s Brit Burden looks for the ball. (Photo by Damin Esper)

No. 3 Piedmont was in the lead most of the way. The Highlanders (20-9) used a 13-1 run in the first half to build a 27-11 advantage. Burden, who had been in foul trouble in the second round win over Alhambra, had no such problems on this night. He made 12 of his 15 shots from the field plus four of five from the free throw line. More importantly, he had solid backup on the offensive end from his teammates, something that has been inconsistent much of the season. Dillon Casey scored 16 points and Ravi Silverberg had 11. Thorin Holmes had five assists, finding Burden cutting across the middle again and again.

Through three quarters, the Piedmont defense had kept Bugas more or less in check. He had scored 23 points but hadn’t gone off.

That changed once desperation time set in. Bugas made six 3-pointers and two more 2-pointers in the quarter. The lead began to erode and the Highlanders started to make some mistakes, turning the ball over and missing shots. But they scored just enough to hold on. They were still up eight with less than 15 seconds left which made the final two 3-pointers of the night by Bugas essentially meaningless.

Grady Stewart (4) of Archie Williams reaches at Piedmont’s Brit Burden during an NCS playoff game. Burden scored 28 points and had 18 rebounds. (Photo by Damin Esper)

Bugas didn’t get the same offensive support Burden did. Three Archie Williams starters finished without a field goal. Brian Wright scored eight points but no other Peregrine Falcon had more than two.

Piedmont lost to University in December, 93-61. They’ll get their chance at redemption in a college gym with a big crowd with the NCS title on the line. The Highlanders won the first title in school history in 2020.

“The team needs your support and energy! Be there on Friday night at 7:00 to cheer on the team!” head coach Ben Spencer wrote Thursday in an email to the school community.

Tonight’s championship game will be held at War Memorial Gym on the USF campus.

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