Caleb Jeske’s two free throws with 1.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter sealed a hard-fought 60-56 victory for St. Helena High’s varsity boys basketball team over visiting Fort Bragg High in a North Central League I matchup on Wednesday night.
“I’m just so proud of the kids. They played with so much heart, so much desire, so much passion. We were at huge physical disadvantage,” Saints’ head coach Jim Gamble said following the contest. “There are some big kids on that Fort Bragg team and a lot of them play on the football team and with only two seniors and a bunch of juniors (on our team this year). I’m just so proud of the effort.”
The game was tight throughout the first half. The Saints (9-8, 4-2 NCL I) scored the final five points of the first quarter to take a 14-12 advantage after the game’s opening eight minutes. They increased their advantage to 29-23 at halftime. Fort Bragg, led by Jullian Clavelle, who scored a game-high 14 points, sliced the deficit to 46-41 entering the fourth quarter.
The Saints opened the game’s final eight minutes with an 8-2 run to build a 54-43 lead and the game appeared to be salted away. But the Timberwolves responded with a 13-3 run to close the deficit to 57-56 with 1:21 left in the fourth quarter. The Saints answered with two defensive stops to preserve the lead and senior Nick Jeworowski and Jeske supplied the finishing touches.
Gamble acknowledged that the final minutes Wednesday night highlighted something that has plagued the team throughout this season and needs to be addressed throughout the rest of the campaign.
“We have a lot to work on,” he said. “And one of the things we need to work on is we need to learn is how to close out games."
Senior Christian Iano paced the Saints’ offense with a team-high 13 points. Jeske and Fawad Muhammad also scored in double figures with 11 points and 10 points respectively.
Junior point guard Jonathan Gamble scored nine points, all on three pointers. Jeworowski, whose free throw with 22.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter gave the Saints a 58-56 lead, contributed eight points while junior guard Colin Darrall added seven points. Caleb Granados capped the Saints’ scoring with two points.
The Saints continue league play on Friday when they head to Cloverdale to face the Eagles. At 4-2 in league play, the Eagles and Saints are tied for third place behind Middletown (5-0) and Clear Lake (6-0).
The Saints defeated visiting Fort Bragg 78-48 on Wednesday night. The contest was never in doubt as the Saints sprinted to a commanding 43-19 lead at halftime.
All 15 players on the roster got playing time. Twelve of the Saints’ players scored with each collecting at least a point.
Jackson Corley led the Saints with a game-high 17 points. Henry Dixon was also in double figures with 10 points. Londyn Taylor and Tucker Battistini scored eight points apiece. Freshman Ivan Robledo had seven points while the trio of Harrison Ronayne, Charlie Carpy and Will Garrett added six points each. Emmet Bowen collected four points. George Cutting contributed three points, while Robert Pryzbylinski and Cal Lehman had two points and a point respectively.
Meanwhile, Auggie Martinez led the Timberwolves with 13 points.