The St. Helena boys basketball team struggled to score all game against Roseland University Prep in the third place game of the Sutter Home Invitational Tournament on Saturday night, eventually succumbing to the Knights, 55-38 to settle for fourth place. 

The Saints offensive problems started early and persisted throughout the game. A 26-20 Roseland Prep lead at the half expanded to double-digits by the fourth quarter. Roseland Prep (3-1) led by as much as 18 in the fourth.

“Roseland prep is a very well-coached and very disciplined basketball team,” said St. Helena first-year coach Jim Gamble. “They bring tremendous defensive pressure and we handled it well, only being down six at halftime. Our shots weren’t really going down but we were only down six. Then in the second half they still didn’t fall and the game got away from us there at the end.”

Caleb Jeske led the Saints with 11 points while Nick Jeworowski had nine and Jonathan Gamble added seven.

Both St. Helena and Roseland University Prep play similar, fast-paced styles. Neither team has much height so their offenses rely on getting up and down the court.

That hurt the Saints (2-2) more than it did the Knights. St. Helena struggled to make shots and giving away possession after possession did nothing to help to their comeback effort.

“We have to do a better job of valuing each possession and limiting our turnovers,” coach Gamble said. “We’re just too careless with our passes right now, and our shots just aren’t going down.”

Junior Jonathan Gamble opened the third quarter on a promising note, draining a floater to cut the deficit to 26-22. But Roseland Prep responded with a dominant 15-2 stretch over the next six minutes.

The Knights extended their lead to 18 in the first minute of the fourth quarter before riding their comfortable lead to the final buzzer.

Even with the fourth place finish, head coach Jim Gamble thought the team gained some much-needed experience against tough competition. All four of the teams that St. Helena played were in Division 4. The Saints play in Division 5.

“I thought it was a great experience for the kids playing three bigger schools,” coach Gamble said. “We’re a young team so we need that experience and I think it’s going to pay huge dividends as we progress through the season.”

St. Helena will get back to action on Tuesday when they welcome Winters (1-1). That game tips off at 7 p.m.

“Typically they’re very strong and physical,” coach Gamble said. “They have a big football program there and it seems like they always have big football guys on the basketball team. I’m expecting a very physical team.”

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