Sometimes heading back to your bread and butter is all a team needs to find its groove, as the Saints found out on Tuesday evening when it dispatched Willits 64-25 at St. Helena High School in a North Central League I matchup.
St. Helena (6-7, 1-1 NCL I) experimented with a new defensive attack during the first quarter, but scrapped it heading into the second. The switch back sparked the Saints, who only allowed the Wolverines to score 15 points for the remainder of the game.
“When you win it just gives the kids a real positive vibe,” St. Helena head coach Jim Gamble said. “We are starting to get all the cylinders working together as a team.”
Turnovers plagued the Saints in the first quarter, as St. Helena committed eight of their 11 turnovers in the opening frame. They still led 12-10 after the first quarter with the Willits offense being led by DJ Buzzard. The senior ended the game with a team high-nine points, all in the first half.
To start the second quarter the Saints put on a hard press and the Wolverines weren’t able to deal with the increased pressure.
“That’s when the tide really turned,” Gamble said. “They started to turn the ball over and we were able to get some extra possessions. The kids were knocking down their shots tonight.”
St. Helena’s offense took advantage of easy opportunities off turnovers to put up 23 points in the second quarter. Nick Jeworowski led the way with a game-high 14 points and pulled down five rebounds for the contest.
Unlike against the larger Middletown last week, the Saints had the height advantage and dominated the glass. St. Helena outrebounded Willits by a margin of 40-19 for the game.
“One of the keys at the beginning of the game was offensive rebounding, as we were sending four guys to the offensive boards every possession. That was something we needed to work on and I am proud of the kids for doing that,” Gamble said. “I really think our full court pressure turned the momentum for the game. Once we started to put a lot of pressure on them they started to turn the ball over a lot and got them out of their offensive rhythm. That is our game, we are so small and we have to put a lot of pressure on them.”
Outside of Buzzard the visitors from Willits (4-9, 0-2 NCL I) weren’t able to put together anything on the offensive side. The Saints’ press forced the Wolverines into unusual shooting locations and poor passes.
Fawad Mohammed continues to shine bright off the bench for St. Helena, as the sophomore sharpshooter had 13 points while grabbing seven rebounds for the game. The Saints had a balanced attack, as all 10 eligible players scored a basket.
The offensive woes for Willits didn’t disappear in the second half, as the noticeably sluggish Wolverines only scored one points in the third quarter and only four total points after the break. The Saints outscored Willits 18-1 in the third quarter and cruised to the victory.
A few more notable scorers for St. Helena were Christian Iano with nine, Collin Darrall at eight and Caleb Granados with seven points.
“The last three or four games our shot selection has been pretty poor and so I really pulled in the reins today,” Gamble said. “I was really happy how we moved the ball today on offensive and everyone was sharing the ball. It was like this team used to play and we need to get back to do that. It was great to get the win, but we have some really tough games coming up.”
The Saints can forge their path in the NCL I this week, as they have three straight road games over the next six days. First up is a tough showdown with Lower Lake on Wednesday, followed by a trip to Kelseyville on Friday and a drive up to Lakeport to take on league-best Clear Lake on Monday.