Boys: Defense takes Alameda to semifinals
Alameda knew what to do when it took the lead in the second half of Saturday night’s North Coast Section Division II quarterfinals at Redwood.
It was to prevent standout Jake Vasquez from taking the lead.
So Alameda coach Miles Tarver came up with a “box-and-one” defense that worked better than anyone could have imagined.
The visitors held second-seeded Redwood to one point in the fourth quarter, turning a three-point deficit after three periods into a 44–32 win.
Instead of a dismal journey home, seventh-seeded Alameda will now gear up for a Wednesday night semi-final in third-seeded Las Lomas, a winner over Montgomery on Saturday.
“It worked,” Tarver said of the late-game defense. “It seemed like it caught them off guard. They played the ball around a bit and when they couldn’t get it to their main game making man – No. 12 (Vasquez) – it was like a hot potato.
Redwood can be an intimidating place for visitors, given that the home student area is set up behind one of the baskets.
Saturday the gym was not so impressive.
“I don’t know if it was the holiday weekend or something,” Tarver said. “But the group I saw when they played Branson multiple times — people who looked like it was Cameron Stadium at Duke — didn’t exist tonight. We’ll take it.”
Gabe Garcia scored 14 points and point guard Jackson Yep added 10 to lead Alameda. The Hornets also got solid contributions off the bench from Tariq Grant (two three-pointers in the first half) and Zion Moore (big plays down the stretch).
“The scoring was pretty spread out,” Tarver said. “It was a well-rounded effort.”
Girls: Change in coaching hasn’t stopped Moreau
Moreau Catholic reached the semifinals of the NCS Division II playoffs, cruising home past a known foe, Newark Memorial, 74-27. The Mariners had already beaten Newark twice in league games, so the result was not unexpected.
What was unexpected: Moreau had a coaching change in January, with assistant principal Toni West taking over after the school parted ways with the previous coach for reasons not made public.
The Mariners will bring an eight-game winning streak into their semifinal against third-seeded Miramonte on Wednesday night.
West gives all the credit to the players.
“They could have chosen to just throw the season away,” she said. “But instead they dug in.”
Saturday’s win saw Madeline Bader and Madison Thomas finish with 17 points each and Dymonique Maxie with 16. The Mariners also played strong defensively.
Now they are two wins from a third straight section championship. Moreau captured Division III titles in 2020 and last season. The NCS did not hold playoffs in 2021 due to the pandemic.
What makes Moreau so good?
“I’ve only been on the team for about a month,” said West. “But as an assistant director and four years watching them, I really believe the strength is the foundation the coaching staff has laid and the chemistry between the players is actually really fun to watch. They just know where the other is supposed to be. They communicate very well.”
Girls: Karena Eberts of Miramonte leads playoff push
Miramonte junior Karena Eberts has been a prolific goalscorer since day 1.
She has averaged at least 10 points per game in her first three varsity seasons and will score 17.8 points per game in 2022-23.
When the Matadors need a big performance, as they did in Saturday’s 54-46 NCS Division II quarterfinal victory over Redwood, the 6-foot-2 forward has stepped up. She scored a game-high 24 points.
But on the night Eberts crossed the 1,000-point mark for her career, it was her newfound leadership skills, not her shotmaking, that coach Vince Wirthman raved about.
“She’s our captain and she’s really taken over the team,” said Wirthman. “She’s just the heart and soul of the whole team and gives everything she’s got every night.”
In a team with a rotation of seven players, Eberts is often asked to play big minutes. She has responded by scoring in double digits in all but one game and also averages 12.3 rebounds per game.
“She’s quite a quiet kid in general, but when she’s on the field she tells people what to do, she really leads the team,” said the coach. “She’s a coach on the floor.”
Aside from Eberts’ 24 points, Courtney Scheingart scored 12 points, and her sister Katherine Scheingart scored all eight of her points in the second half to keep No. 3 Miramonte ahead late on.
“We kept trying to pull away, and we couldn’t get away from them,” Wirthman said. “It was just a typical tournament game where you just want to survive and get ahead. It was a drag of a game, that’s for sure.”
Girls: O’Dowd content in Division II
The way Bishop O’Dowd has breezed through the first two rounds of the NCS Division II playoffs begs the question: Should the Dragons have been selected for the Open Division?
Long time coach Malik McCord says no.
“We haven’t beaten an Open team all year,” he said after O’Dowd, the number 8 in the field, rolled past number 8 58-23 on Saturday. “It made sense. If we beat an Open team, we should have been in the Open. But we lost to Acalanes, we lost to Cardinal Newman. We are where we need to be.”
Due to injuries, O’Dowd started with three freshmen on Saturday. Two of them, Lizzy Quinteros and Devin Cosgriff, were the Dragons’ leading scorers. Cosgriff had 15 points and Quinteros finished with 11.
In the fourth quarter, the game was played with a running clock.
“The girls played well,” McCord said.
Girls: Trinity Zamora from Piemonte works her way back
Thanks to an NCS statute that only allows teams from Divisions I through III to be seeded in the elite Open Division, the undefeated Piedmont is stuck playing overmatched competition in Division IV.
After receiving a first-round bye, the top-seeded Highlanders beat Lick-Wilmerding 81-29 on Saturday. Natalia Martinez had 25 points and five assists, and Eva Levingston and Perseas Gioukaris combined for 24 points and 22 rebounds.
But if there’s any upside to having an eight-day layoff and a string of mismatches on the schedule, it’s that senior striker Trinity Zamora will be able to play her way back into match form.
The San Diego State commit missed nearly a month due to a knee injury she sustained against Bishop O’Dowd on January 18.
Zamora returned for the regular season finale against Berkeley on February 10, and her coach said the team doesn’t want her to do too much too soon.
“She says she feels good and healthy, but I don’t know if she’s 80 or 90 percent healthy, or 95 percent,” Piedmont coach Bryan Gardere said. “But she’s approved by the trainer and she works around the clock.”
Zamora had 10 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in limited minutes on Saturday. Every available player on Piemonte’s roster played.
“There were opportunities for everyone to get some court time, so we tried to take advantage of that,” said Gardere.
Piedmont will host No. 5 McKinnleyville in the semifinals on Wednesday.