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The St. Helena girls basketball team hosted the Lady Saints Invitational over the weekend and went 1-2 to secure seventh place in the tournament.

As of Tuesday, they are 3-3 on the season, the best six-game start to a season for the Saints since the 2011-12 season.

Here’s how the weekend shaped up.

Game one: Rio Vista 47, St. Helena 41

Daphne Steele’s three-pointer with just under three minutes left in the fourth quarter Thursday night, gave the St. Helena High girls basketball team a 41-39 lead.

But visiting Rio Vista High ended the game on an 8-0 run to hand the Saints a 47-41 loss in the opening round of The Lady Saints’ Invitational Tournament at St. Helena High School.

Steele was one of three Saints who scored in double figures. She, along with, Andrea Hernandez, and Marylu Rodriguez scored 10 points apiece. Citlali Garcia scored nine points and Lisa Lord capped the scoring with two points.

Following the contest, Saints’ first-year head coach Darol Smith praised his team for its determined effort.

“The effort was super. The energy was great,” Smith said.

But the coach acknowledged his squad is experiencing growing pains which are characteristic of young teams no matter the sport or the particular level.

“We just don’t quite know how to win the close (game) yet,” said Smith, who watched his team storm back from a 30-19 halftime deficit after being outscored 14-4 in the second quarter. “But it will come. I’m really proud of the way we played [in the second half] being down 11 and not quitting was great.”

The Saints closed the gap to 32-28 at the end of the third quarter, and opened the game’s final eight minutes with a 13-7 spurt punctuated by Steele’s shot from the left corner. But Rio Vista’s experience and savvy took over down the stretch.

Game two: Ferndale 39, St. Helena 17

Following the St. Helena High girls basketball team’s 47-41 loss at the hands of Rio Vista High in the opening round of the Lady Saints Invitational on Thursday night, the hosts bowed 39-17 to Ferndale High on Friday night.

The game was never in doubt as Ferndale (4-1), led by Bryleigh Busick’s game-high 14 points, cruised to a commanding 17-4 halftime lead and never looked back.

Steele and Vega led St. Helena’s offensive attack with four points each. Garcia scored three points, while Lord, Zoey Long, and Rodriguez – who played despite an injured thumb – contributed two points apiece.

Saints head coach Darol Smith noted his team was shorthanded Friday night, with point guard Jovana Rodriguez and Lauren Ridgway absent due to illness.

Following Friday’s contest, Smith praised his team for its determined effort, but acknowledged its offensive performance left him and his players in a state of frustration.

“The effort tonight was equally as good (as Thursday night’s),” Smith said.

When it came to discussing his team’s offensive performance, Smith didn’t mince words.

“We’re not a good shooting team anyway, but this is maybe our worst shooting game (of the season),” he said.

Game three: St. Helena 52, Elsie Allen 32

St. Helena came back on Saturday and defeated the JV team from Elsie Allen, 52-32, in the seventh-place game.

The game was never in doubt as the Saints (3-3) led throughout, cruising to a 28-13 halftime lead and increased the advantage to 40-20 at the end of the third quarter.

“They played hard. Everybody got to play,” said Smith.

In addition to getting playing time, all nine players on the Saints’ active roster scored at least two points.

Steele led the Saints’ offensive attack with 12 points, and Andrea Hernandez scored seven. Elizabeth Garcia scored her first six points of the season. Lord also had six points and was selected to the all-tournament team.

Vega also had six points, Marylu Rodriguez scored five, Citlali Garcia and Long contributed four points each, and Sharon Lagunos had two.

Samantha Holguin led Elsie Allen (1-8) with 15 points.

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