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.
The loss dropped St. Helena to 2-2 on the season while Rio Vista, led by Olivia Roberts’ game-high 15 points, improved to 3-2.
Steele was one of three Saints who scored in double figures. Steele, 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.
The Lady Saints return to the hardwood Friday night when they host Ferndale High in the second round of the tournament. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m.