At the Fort Bragg Holiday Tournament last week, the St. Helena High varsity boys basketball team was missing starters Ethan Battistini and Collin Darrall as they opened with a 48-28 loss to St. Bernard’s of Eureka on Thursday and fell 54-33 to Kelseyville on Friday.
With Battistini back, they bounced back Saturday with a 39-36 win over the hosting Timberwolves.
Against eventual tournament runner-up St. Bernard’s, St. Helena turned in an inspiring defensive effort in the first half and went into halftime with the score tied 15-15.
The Saints had a hard time finding the bottom of the net in the second half, however. They were led by Nick Jeweroski’s 10 points and eight rebounds, Stephen Collins’ seven points, and Christian Iano’s five points and one assist.
The next day, St. Helena trailed Kelseyville 25-12 at halftime. They outscored the Knights – one of the favorites in the North Central League I – 14-11 in the third quarter behind six points apiece from Christian Cia and Iano. But they trailed 36-26 going into the fourth quarter and couldn’t get closer.
Iano had 12 points with three treys, Cia six points, five steals, two rebounds and two deflected passes, Jewerowski six points and five rebounds, and Olie Russum five points, five rebounds and four deflected passes. Jonathan Gamble collected two points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals and eight deflected passes, and Kostas Kelperis chipped in two points.
“Even though we lost our first two games, holding both St. Bernard’s and Kelseyville – two high-scoring offenses – to under 55 points is something the kids can build on,” St. Helena head coach Joe Densberger said.
Against Fort Bragg, the Saints took a 6-2 lead after one quarter before Battistini – back from vacation – scored eight points and Gamble four in the second quarter for a 20-16 halftime lead. Battistini continued his hot shooting in the third quarter, netting nine points, as the Saints increased their lead to 33-22. They went cold in the fourth quarter, both from the field and the free-throw line, but held on for an important victory.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game, but a win is a win, and it’ll make the trip home a lot more enjoyable,” Densberger said. “Most importantly, with two starters missing most of the tournament, everyone got important minutes against strong competition. That will help the team when league starts.”
Battistini finished with 23 points and seven rebounds, Jeweroski five points and seven rebounds, Gamble four points, two rebounds, three steals and five deflected passes, Russum four points, three steals and five deflected passes, and Ryan Rockwood three points and two steals.
The Saints hosted Lower Lake in their NCL I opener on Wednesday.
Varsity Girls Basketball
Lady Saints end losing spell in West Coast Jamboree
St. Helena (2-10) closed out its nonleague schedule with a trip to Cornerstone Christian in Antioch last week for the West Coast Jamboree, competing in the Topaz Bracket.
In the Saints’ opener last Thursday, they lost to Northgate of Walnut Creek 51-16. Citlali Garcia had six points, six rebounds, and two steals, Sharon Lagunas posted four points and four rebounds, and Lisa Lord had nine rebounds and seven steals.
Last Friday, against Oceana of Pacifica, the Saints broke free of their five-game skid, winning 32-28. St. Helena overcame a scoreless first quarter and a seven-point halftime deficit, outscoring the Sharks 14-2 in the third quarter. Lord recorded a double-double, finishing with 16 points, 13 rebounds, and seven steals, and Jovana Rodriguez had eight points and four steals.
In the tournament finale, St. Helena lost to Pacific Collegiate of Santa Cruz 24-16. Rodriguez led the Saints with six points, six rebounds and three steals, and Lagunas added four points and three rebounds.
Lord was named to the All-Tournament team, totaling 36 rebounds during the three-day event.
“I thought we played the best complete basketball we’ve played all season,” said Saints head coach Kate Shipp-Roberts. “We did not have our regular lineup this weekend and the kids adjusted just fine. They did the things I asked them to as far as the ‘X’s’ and ‘O’s’ and (I am) happy we are moving in a positive direction.”